Monday, 30 July 2012

Southampton PR Agency Shortlisted For Award For Local Britain's Got Talent Campaign

MCC International shortlisted for ‘Best Use of Media Relations’ in the 2012 Wessex and Channel Islands CIPR PRide Awards

MCC International, a PR and Communications agency based on Southampton's University Science Park, has been shortlisted for the ‘Best Use of Media Relations’ in the 2012 Wessex and Channel Islands CIPR PRide Awards, chosen for its outstanding publicity campaign which helped Latin Ballroom dancers Kai and Natalia reach the Grand Final of Britain’s Got Talent 2012. The category is set to be hotly contested, with six companies/individuals shortlisted. Over 1,000 entries were received from freelancers, consultancies and in-house teams across twelve UK regions and nations.

CIPR CEO, Jane Wilson MCIPR, commented: “The CIPR PRide Awards celebrate the best PR and communications campaigns and teams from the profession across the UK. To be shortlisted for a CIPR PRide Award demonstrates exemplary achievement, impact and value – immediately putting your work in the spotlight. The sheer number of high quality entries received this year, especially when things are still pretty tough out there economically, is testament to a thriving nationwide industry. Congratulations for reaching this stage and the best of luck for the awards presentation evenings.”

Fiona Brewer, Managing Director at MCC International comments, “We are delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award. The team worked very hard to put the local dancing duo on the national stage and over a very short period of time, so we're very proud that our successful campaign has been recognised in this way.”

Friday, 27 July 2012

Going for Gold PR


You would have had to of been living under a rock not to know that the London Olympics 2012 starts today and as expected the media is buzzing with excitement for the games. Whilst there has been coverage regarding apathy towards the games amongst a lot of people in the country in the last few months, undoubtedly it will delight many more with, what Prime Minister David Cameron has proclaimed, ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’. It’s also a superb PR opportunity for UK plc to shine on an international stage. In many ways winning an Olympic bid is all about PR for the host country (in fact you could argue it’s the ultimate PR event), it shows the organisational skills (or lack of in some cases!), the facilities and attractions that visitors can expect and hopefully adds some character from the indigenous people to highlight how great the venue nation is. It will be interesting to see how the UK capitalises on the media coverage and (hopefully) good will that it generates. Recent headlines about the failures in security and the threatened strike by UK Border staff have also shown that it can be stage for very negative PR as well, so getting things right has rarely been more important for the image of the country.

With smartphones a highly common part of everyday life for many of us, a story on BBC News today will certainly raise a little concern. A hacker has shown it is possible to hijack a smartphone using short-range radio technology known as Near Field Communication (NFC). By making the smartphone visit pre-planned booby-trapped websites the hacker was able to steal data about the owner/user. Malware has always had a history of following the wider trends in IT and targeted the majority – Apple Mac users for instance have often considered themselves fairly safe due to the lower numbers of desktop users and the company’s strict control on mobile applications. This test was done on Android phones which are wrestling for dominance of the market with iPhones, so there is a big ‘market’ of potential victims. It’s proof that, like most areas of society, the technology sector is just as open to crime and criminals will always find new ways to make money.

MCC has had the pleasure of a visit by our latest Work Experience student, Zoe, over the last two weeks. As well as showing her the ropes with regards to how a PR agency works (and how vital regular cups of tea are to proceedings!) and making the most of her help with our day-to-day tasks, we asked Zoe to write a short summary of her experiences. Here is what she had to say:

“Over the last two weeks, I have been completing my work experience placement with MCC International at Southampton Science Park. I chose to come to MCC because I had an interest in PR and Marketing but I wanted to learn more about how it actually works – I have not been disappointed!

Before starting my work experience, I have to admit that I was nervous as I didn’t know what to expect but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. The atmosphere has been really friendly, I have been made welcome by everyone and I have also learnt a lot of useful information about PR and Marketing. 

During my time here, I have been able to see the various different aspects of PR and Marketing take place (e.g. visits, blogs, press releases and databases) and been involved in a few of them. For example, I have taken clippings of press releases, researched contacts, used databases, been involved in MCC’s Twitter clinic and learnt how to structure and write in different formats used in PR (including blog posts, tweets and press releases). All of these tasks have helped me to develop knowledge and skills that will be extremely useful in the future, especially if I pursue a career in PR and Marketing.

I especially enjoyed learning about and writing the mock press release as I like writing and I found it really interesting that a short press release can have a big impact - for example, I didn’t realise that many of the articles in the media originate from press releases. During my time here, I have been lucky enough to see (and now understand) the different stages of a press release - from its writing to taking clippings to show results to clients.

Due to my experience at MCC, my interest in PR and Marketing has grown – I find it interesting that, using the right PR tools, a company or news story that may not be well known can be released and then seen by many.

As well as acquiring these new skills I have also had the experience of work. I have completed work tasks, seen how an office runs and drunk a lot of tea! I now know how it feels to come into work each day: I have found it exciting and I prefer it to school as I have had the opportunity to be much more independent.

Overall, I have found my work experience placement with MCC International very rewarding in a number of ways. I am sad that my time here at MCC will soon be over but glad that I can take away from it valuable lessons to use in the future.”

Thank you very much for your help Zoe and we’re glad it was a good experience for you!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Getting together

The MCC team took part in a Barbeque at Southampton Science Park yesterday, dodging the showers that have become a trademark of the UK Summer 2012. The Barbeque was a great excuse for us to work with other businesses and individuals that are based on site to help organise and publicise something that lets neighbouring companies meet up socially and have some fun. Working with other businesses is something that is an everyday feature for most organisations and collaboration between companies can get great things done, as our fun (albeit soggy) time yesterday proved! For our clients, collaboration with business partners can be a great bit of PR and Marketing – something the press will often see as a good story of economic success. Naturally getting the PR right and fair can sometimes be a challenge, but if businesses can work together there is no reason why both can’t benefit from the (often sizable) publicity.  We always suggest to our clients that we make as big a song and dance about a partnership as possible as it’s the kind of business activity story that helps to trump the somewhat protracted view of the wider economic stagnation that still seems to dominate many headlines.

With the downtime of its systems this week, UK mobile phone network provider O2 has had its fair share of criticisms and bad publicity from the upheaval. Once again social networks, and in particular Twitter, were buzzing with comments from angry customers but we were interested to see that O2’s Twitter team got to work replying, as reported in the New Statesman. The mixture of knowing, sincere and playfully sarcastic responses may not have put the problems right but they showed a surprisingly human angle to the O2 Twitter comms team - which is no bad thing when there is a corporate crisis going on. Of course had there been deaths involved I’m sure it would have been very different, but it was a nice change of tone from the usual bland statements.

Whilst we work in a high-tech sector, the team at MCC are always pleased to indulge in a little nostalgia and The Independent has run a story today about the resurgence in the popularity of old-school photo booths. Often viewed as a necessity for passport photos, photo booths were always a favourite with younger people looking to take a few cheeky photos of themselves (and maybe their first love) easily and cheaply. It would seem that generation X (and maybe even Generation Y) is taking this retro idea to its heart again, making the most of doing whatever daft thing you want behind the curtain! It would seem most systems are now inevitably digital but you have to hope they retain the ‘lovely’ orange nylon curtain and outside styling of endless 1970s mugshots that certainly live in my memory of the one in our local Gateway supermarket (if you’re under 30 ask your parents about that one!)