We’ve moved

Well it had to happen sooner or later. Our expert design team have been busy working on a rather snazzy new website which will incorporate our new style blog. Head over to the site now to keep to up to date with the latest goings on at Big Cat.

Click here to visit the new site

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Big Cat brings CSI: The Experience to Birmingham

Birmingham based 3600 agency Big Cat, have secured a deal as the UK territory partner for an exciting new interactive entertainment experience, from EMS Exhibits the official international booking agent and promoter of CSI: The Experience – coming to Birmingham in February. Big Cat has been selected to deliver the event management & logistics, PR, social media marketing and design implementation.

February 26 sees the UK premier of CSI: The Experience which takes visitors on an exhilarating journey through dark alleys and hot deserts, to gather evidence and crack the case. CSI: The Experience will be making its UK debut in Birmingham next month in the country’s busiest shopping centre, Bullring Birmingham. The hugely successful attraction will challenge and stimulate all its visitors. CSI: The Experience is developed by the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and produced by EMS Exhibits, a division of Event Marketing Service GmbH under a license from CBS Consumer Products.

Nick Morgan, CEO of Big Cat Group said: “This year is set to be an exciting year for Big Cat. CSI: The Experience will be the second international attraction that we have opened in Birmingham after a successful 3 month run of Bodies Revealed at the Custard Factory; part of a wider initiative to bring world class events to Birmingham as oppose to London and Manchester.

“We’ve been meticulously planning the project for some time now, and are excited to see all of the teams hard work come to fruition. The Bullring is a fantastic location for CSI: The Experience and we are delighted to be opening the first attraction in the busy shopping centre.

“The show has already visited Vienna, Dublin, Warsaw, Budapest and Las Vegas, all of which have been great successes. We’re hoping that the Birmingham experience will continue the trend.”

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10 reasons why you should hire a PR company

I came across a blog last week entitled “10 reasons why you should get rid of your PR firm”. Personally I feel all the reasons are rubbish, well for Big Cat at least.

In response to the blog I thought I’d do my own “10 reasons why you should hire a PR company”

Now I’m not one of those types that thinks every company in the world needs a PR firm, it all depends on circumstance, resources, what you actually want to accomplish and whether or not you can achieve it yourself.

Most PR companies deserve your time because……

1) We know our market

There are a vast range of resources out there which allow PR companies to analyse their market, whether it be software such as Media Disk which allows us to find the right journalist for the right story, or online websites such as Mintel which contain a whole wealth of stats and figures on any topic you could imagine. If you want to know your market you’ve got to put the time and research in.

2) We speak English

Many PR firms have a number of B2B clients which specalise in technical goods that Joe-Public aren’t interested in. Due to the type of market, much of the material has to be technical as well, however you have to be careful not to overload it. If you’re writing for the trade press, the reader will know much of the technical info already so you can get straight to the point. There’s no need to skirt around the topic, most times its better to dive in straight to the point.

There’s also an opposite to this. As PR’s we’re often asked to “flower-up” a release, make it more interesting and appealing to the reader. Again, this is another trap that a good PR knows to avoid. It’s ok adding the extra multi-syllable word here and there, but you have to be careful not to overdo it, otherwise your release ends up looking like an 18th century novel rather than an article for a newspaper.

A good PR can write a release to fit any subject area, whether it be B2B or for the general public. Through research, practice and meticulous proof reading you can ensure that any release is ready for its target audience and is easily understandable.

3) We’re not journalists

Journalists are 100% essential for any PR. Building rapport with journalists makes life a hell of a lot easier, and I’m not on about sending them gifts (which I’m sure they love), just treat them normally. A couple of my closest friends are journalists and the one thing they hate is people who brown nose. Just show a general interest, they’re not aliens (which surprisingly many people still believe). It seems (despite how much both sides disagree) journalists and PR folk are more a like than either of them realise.

4) We care

I’m relatively new to the industry however I still get a buzz when I get a piece of coverage, it doesn’t matter how big it is or whether its national or in a small local paper, to me coverage is coverage. Hopefully I’ll always feel like that.

One thing I can’t stand is blanketing out a press release to a million journalists. If you’re a good PR you have your contacts and know who to target. If you’re venturing into a new arena, do your research and pick up the phone. However its better to find out when journalists aren’t on a deadline though and time your calls for then.

Sending out a release to 14 titles isn’t a result to me, it’s not until I see the story in the appropriate publication that I know the job is done. I’m pretty sure this is how the client feels as well as telling them the release has been sent out isn’t what their paying for.

5) We manage our resources

I’m going to use the old cliché here and say that all businesses are under pressure to generate the same if not greater results on far fewer resources. However its upto the good PR to keep tabs on the resources and manage client expectations accordingly. Over-servicing has become essential over recent months, however the majority of the time its the only way to get the results. Quality should always overcome quantity.

6) We’re good at publicity

This is sort of self-explanatory. How else would you know about a good PR company unless their good at publicity? There are so many platforms to promote a company whether it be via newspapers, trade titles or social media. However word of mouth and recommendations still seems to be the best way to get new clients.

7) We don’t like ruts

Any good PR loves a challenge and something new to dig their teeth into. That doesn’t necessarily mean a new client though. It’s a PR’s job to make their own work interesting, that’s the challenge. Injecting life and new ideas into a campaign not only keeps the client happy but also the agency team.

8 ) We choose good clients

We’re not all money grabbing Fat Cats, many of us like to pick who we work with and for very carefully. There are a number of PR firms in Birmingham, including Big Cat who are proud of who they work for and the results they achieve. A lot of the time people think its the client that chooses the PR firm, but the PR firm has to have some say in it as well otherwise the campaign will never succeed.

9) We make the industry look good

All in all the majority of PR agencies do a dam good job. Every single one is different, each with their own methodology, quirks and perks. I’m not saying that all agencies are fantastic, far from it, however they don’t deserve the bad reputation which they seem to have developed over recent years.

Some of the countries greatest product awareness stunts were designed and implemented by PR firms, so next time think before you come out with a comment such as “Oh, you’re one of those.”

10) We love what we do

Simple as that. We, the team at Big Cat love what we do. We love our clients, we love our work and we love each other (well  most of the time). Becuase of this we do a damn good job, and this is why we continue to work with some of the best clients in the country

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It’s Christmas time….

Well it’s been a busy old few weeks here at the Big Cat office. Usually during the run up to Christmas people start winding down, brew the mulled wine and pop open the mince pies…no such luck here, it’s been hands on deck.

Last Friday saw the launch of NEC Funworld, Europe’s most exciting funfair, which Big Cat PR and Marketing had a helping hand in promoting. Featuring over 60 adrenaline fuelled rides including The Superstar, Frisbee and Frog, it’s enough to turn your stomach (which Chris Brown can testify too).

As with any launch though, you have to have a high-profile celebrity, and boy did we have an act. X-Factor legends John and Edward performed a number hits on the night which included their very own interpretation of “Ghostbusters”. The hall was buzzing with atmosphere, with a crowd of screaming girls (and a few boys) chanting “JEDWARD! JEDWARD!”. Some of the girls had been queuing up since 1:00pm in the afternoon and during the time had practiced a little routine to wow the twins with.

The launch event was a great success though with the Big Cat team even having some time on the rides themselves….well we had to make sure all the rides worked ok.

But, no rest for the wicked though. 3 days left till we break up for Christmas and we still have a pile of work to get through. Some great projects coming up in the New Year though which we’re really excited about, however it’s all a bit hush hush at the moment so you’ll have to wait and see what they are.

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New Kid on the block

Hi I’m Chris, 22, originally from Wolverhampton, now living in Birmingham. My favourite film is “A tale of 2 sisters”, favourite food is Cornish pasty and favourite band is Epica.

Right, that’s the introductions out the way. If you’d hadn’t guessed from all the tweeting I’m the new Senior Account Executive here at Big Cat, working alongside Natalie in the PR team.

This is the start of my third week here at Big Cat, and in all honesty the first chance I’ve had to blog. It’s been an incredibly busy two weeks in the office, filled with client meetings, tenders and the occasional rubbing of shoulders with celebrities…what a life eh.

My role here at Big Cat will be to support Natalie on all fronts as well as look after clients’ needs/wants in regards to social media. So if you have any questions about what’s trending in the world of social media or just want some advice, don’t be afraid to drop me a line.

Stay tuned to the Big Cat Comms blog as we’ll be keeping you up to date with the goings on in the office and what’s happening in world of PR.

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Tips on Social Media from our Bournville account

In the interests of Social Media and idea sharing, I would like to do a small post on our work with Bournville College.

bournvilleBournville College is a sixth form and adult education establishment just outside Birmingham city centre. They’re an extremely innovative college that were looking to use social media as a tool for connecting with current and prospective students. They contacted us on the matter and off we went.

As with all things, the campaign evolved and adapted throughout its duration. We had a water tight strategy but it is impossible to foresee trends and patterns in student viewing habits. Our campaign was based around the existing Bournville Blog that had been left dormant for sometime and we set up a bouquet of social media applications that were to satellite the blog acting as a referral tool and a real time conversational app.

bournville2As it is impossible to forecast the best social media apps for reaching students, we started with a blanket campaign over all the apps including Twitter, Bebo, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious. Each was given equal weight and attention until it became clear which ones were effective and which ones were not.

We applied the same ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality to the blog which was the ‘meat on the bone’ of the campaign. We initially wrote a new blog post every day with each post covering a different school subject everyday. We tried to make all posts appeal to inquisitive teens so we did posts on things such as the science behind a bacon sandwich and discussing what ‘Only fools and horses’ taught us about finance as well as live social reporting from Bournville’s open days and fayres.bournville3

Conversation was the foundation of our campaign and our main goal from start to finish was to create content that would provoke comments. Dialogue is the most important part of social media. Our initial posts, although well visited, were not gaining the frequency of comments we were hoping for. A more question based blogging style was to be used. We wanted to talk about relevant topics and ask the audience for their feedback. It was a great deal more successful and our blog and Facebook pages soon became forums for people to comment on.

With regards to applications and portals, there is no cast iron one that works for everyone. With our young audience we had anticipated a lot more from our Bebo page but it was Facebook, Stumble and Digg that were our big hitters, so we pulled out of the other applications and put our energies into making them a success. Twitter was a slight disappointment which I think may have been a result of Twitter being a more adult toy, certainly for our other accounts, particularly Bodies Revealed, Twitter has been an excellent conversational tool and information portal.Facebook

The question asking and dialogue through Facebook kept interest up during the summer holidays where we were expecting a down turn. Our social reporting was gaining a lot of hits and a small community was growing. As the campaign drew to its climax and prospectus downloads became the paramount target, our posts across all apps became a lot more sales driven.

In the end, Bournville received a record high enrollment and they will now be using social media as a regular tool for communication within the college.

We don’t profess to be social media geniuses but there were some valuable lessons we learnt on the way.

1. Always adapt – new trends and apps pop up all the time and devices you thought may be successful often may not be

2. Know you end and goal and stick at it – if you want comments, write posts that provoke comments

3. Reply to everything - it’s obvious but people don’t do it. Social media is two way and that is its sole purpose.

Without wanting to sound a bit shameless, Alma Aganovic of Bournville College had this to say about it all:

Social media is a very innovative marketing approach for the FE sector, with Bournville taking the lead, with Big Cat’s help. Using several social networking websites, as well as our own website blog, we have opened dialogues with potential students and the local community. This has in turn led to increased traffic on our website and an increase in downloaded brochures, both of which have been great news.

Working with Big Cat has been productive and enjoyable. We have monitored the campaign very closely, adapting activities to meet our targets. Big Cat have been very responsive and creative in terms of coming up with suggestions for adjusting campaign objectives, making the most of activities taking place at the College (e.g. Live blogging from Open Days etc). Following the success of the summer campaign, we are continuing to work with Big Cat this year to promote our Open Days. I have no hesitation in recommending this agency as a social media partner.

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Images from the Bodies Revealed press day

Yesterday was the press day for Bodies Revealed that was very well received from all and sundry. A lot of press photographers had a field day with a lot of the exhibits. Two friends of the company and superlative artists in their field, Karen Strunks and Alex Hughes applied their skills to the exceptional specimens on display. Please enjoy and visit Karen’s and Alex’s websites, they’re two really talented artists.

If you can’t see the slideshows, click for Karen Strunks and Alex Hughes’ images.4053670702_94c27b2058

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