07/09/2022

Tech: 5 budgeting apps to help make the most of your money

The concept of ‘financial freedom’ has attracted a lot of interest over the past few years. It feels liberating to buy rounds for friends with the quiet response: “This one’s on me.” But it’s become clear that many of us will need to start monitoring our income and spending as inflation rises in the UK.

The thought of monitoring my spending struck me with fear especially when I saw my flatmates mammoth spreadsheet tracking every penny. But soon I noticed the multitude of budgeting apps that make personal finance much simpler. They quelled my anxieties. And could save me £££ too.

These are some of the best.

1. Nous

Nous is an app that helps you better understand your changing household bills. This is particularly useful at the moment following the announcement that Ofgem would be raising the household energy price cap by 80%. But also if our new prime minister decides to act on that.

New Nous users need only connect their open banking account through the app to start the process. Nous will then evaluate your bills and forecast their future changes. You can even add other members of your household to improve the accuracy of the forecasts.

2. Snoop

Snoop is another app that helps you track bills. But it also tracks your other spending too. It will then suggest ways for you to reduce certain bills like mobile service providers in line with current offers from other providers.

Snoop’s various free functions make it a brilliant option for people who want to monitor their spending across multiple accounts on a single platform. There is a premium version (only £3.99) that enables enhanced functions like unlimited custom spending categories.

There are many other similar apps out there. But Snoop provides some of the best functions on its free membership level. All you need to do is connect the bank accounts you want to track through the app.

3. MoneySavingExpert

There’s a good chance you’ll already know about MSE. And if not, you might have heard of Martin Lewis, MSE’s founder. But it always surprises me to find out how few people I know use the website. It’s just released a new app too, and that's why it makes our best budgeting apps list.

The new app, called MoneySavingExpert, helps people access MSE content through an easier format. The content is all related to reducing bills and making more of your money available for the spending you care about. It provides invaluable advice about managing personal finances during the current cost-of-living crisis.

4. Loop

You might have once deemed energy bills a ‘low priority’ if you live alone or in a house share. But there’s a good chance that, wherever you live, you’re thinking about them now. If you only download one budgeting app, we suggest it's this one.

Loop’s app helps you track your household energy usage. It works by connecting with your smart meter, which, if you don’t have one, energy providers often offer to install for free. The app then offers energy-saving insights based on the data.

Loop claims that it helps users reduce their electricity usage by 10% on average. And the app is free, so it really is an easy decision to make.

5. Moneyhub

Moneyhub works somewhat like Snoop. It tracks your spending and bills across multiple accounts to provide detailed analysis about where you spend your money. This can help you better understand your finances and reduce costs where possible.

Moneyhub’s principal difference is its goals-based approach. You can use it to set specific goals across multiple categories to track your status as a month progresses. It makes personal finance a lot easier to keep track of.


Liked this blog on budgeting apps? Check out our 6 fashion tech apps that will help you to save money on clothes while also protecting the planet!

21/07/2022

Insight: Inside Iraq’s fledgling startup scene

Iraq’s reputation as a corrupt, conservative country might not suggest it would provide fertile soil for growing startups.

But the country’s earlier history tells a different story. The land beneath Iraq once sprouted the world’s first civilisations using innovative irrigation and agricultural techniques. Its capital, Baghdad, produced the 9th century’s most advanced science.

Now, improving security and loose regulations are giving some Iraqis the space to respond to challenges with exciting ideas.

Differences between Iraq and Europe

Iraqi working culture is very different from that in Europe.

Iraqis value their free time and most work shorter hours (about six per day, six days per week). Evenings are reserved for friends and family. In fact, I’ve met several Iraqis who had emigrated to the UK but moved back home because they disliked the long, intense working hours.

Economic uncertainty and a lack of social security mean most people tend to aim for secure jobs based on their potential salaries, even those in the middle classes. That often means applying for work in the bloated civil sector - the police, healthcare, or the armed forces. Having the financial security and family support to start a high-risk business is still very much a privilege.

Those who are able to start business ventures face a unique market presenting both opportunities and challenges. Corporation tax is a flat rate of 15% (other than oil and gas companies) - lower than the UK’s standard 19% - and Iraqis otherwise pay minimal taxes. Despite that, most areas are controlled by unofficial groups (‘mafias’) that demand their own payments from businesses attempting to set up shop.

Transport and delivery

Iraq is hot (sometimes over 50 degrees celsius in the summer), dusty, and urban pollution levels are very high. No public inter-city train links exist either, and fuel prices are cheap (25p per litre!). Cars, as a result, are the most popular form of transport for most.

These conditions present the perfect environment for transport and delivery apps. It was no coincidence that Iraq’s highest-value funding round in history was set in January by Baly. Baly started as a taxi app like Uber, and now offers a variety of other adjacent services. Other transport companies operating in Iraq are based in other countries, like Dubai’s popular Careem. But, food-delivery app Alsaree3 demonstrates a good example of a homegrown company exploiting Iraq’s important food culture.

These companies still face unique localised problems however.

Baghdad’s famed traffic makes car journeys slow and tedious for drivers. The roads are also dangerous for delivery drivers who often ride without helmets. One friend who owns a burger restaurant had to stop delivering for a day when his rider was injured in an accident. Attempts to overcome these challenges have produced interesting results, like Baly’s motorbike taxi service, for example.

Energy

Iraq sits on one of the world’s largest oil reserves, almost twice the size of Russia’s and four times the size of the USA’s. As we know, that’s made Iraq’s situation complicated in a political respect. Now, with international efforts requiring a transition to sustainable energy sources and Turkey damming its rivers, Iraq’s energy uncertainty continues.

For entrepreneurs, this presents an opportunity. Iraq suffers from frequent power cuts, which cost hotels and other facilities huge amounts of money when they turn on their generators to fill the gaps in supply.

KESK is a fantastic example of an Iraqi company attempting to tackle all these challenges at once with sustainable solutions fit for the 21st century. Its solar-powered air-conditioning unit aims to keep Iraqis cool during the summer without the need for a battery, which would come with its own ethical issues.

Companies like KESK often face entrenched views adopted to deal with longtime problems like the heat. Potential customers can be stubborn. They know their existing solutions work and improving the climate is low on the list of priorities for most Iraqis. Raising awareness presents half the challenge.

E-commerce

Iraq’s population are very connected, with 68% using social media platforms. Iraq’s retailers, on the other hand, do not use advanced technology to carry out their business. Cashless payments are almost unheard of. There are no POS card transactions. Companies use social media pages as their digital shop fronts, instead of independent websites.

This combination of connectivity and low-tech retail has provided the perfect environment for e-commerce businesses to fill the gap. Apps can help retailers advertise their products online, providing better reach for brands that might otherwise only gain recognition in their local communities.

Again, several of the big operators in this space are based outside Iraq, like Jordan’s OpenSooq. But there’s still room for Iraqi companies to meet the demand with cultural sleight of hand. Miswag targets Iraq’s youth (the country’s average age is 21) with colourful, pop-out advertising, and has grown its staff by 30% in the past six months.

Although some of these companies may only appear to be translating established ideas for Iraq’s market, it’s important to credit them for adjusting their models in a unique environment. Others like KESK and Baly are innovating with truly fresh ideas specific to the challenges faced by Iraqi people.


It’s an exciting time, and the World Bank forecasts Iraq’s economy to grow by 9% this year. As long as the current relative security holds, Iraq’s fledgling startup scene may have a lot to offer in the coming decade.

Interested in learning more about startups? Check out some of our work.

21/07/2022

Insight: From grad to intern: What it’s really like in PR

Hello hello hello! I’m Hannah, a Summer Placement PR intern at Words + Pixels here. It has been 3 weeks since I started and I can’t wait to give you a snapshot of what it has been like working in PR, from the perspective of a PR & Advertising student.

How to put my knowledge and skills into practice

From conducting research into insights about the clients to crafting a media list, my knowledge of PR  and Advertising was transformed into a series of practical techniques and skills that I can now implement in real-life business scenarios, all thanks to my internship.

However, it's been much more than that. I've learnt new things such as keep up with the news on a daily basis... and drafting pitches is very different from what I was taught in university.

As Steve Jobs said: “Learn continually - there’s always “one more things” to learn”, the world of PR constantly evolves and surprises me.

Understanding workplace culture

Culture influences communication, and as an international student, I learned that every company or organisation has its own culture. It’s essential to observe others and learn how they engage and interact with co-workers, or help them with projects and tasks. I quickly learned that whenever something is unclear for me, or I don’t understand, it’s fine to ask for clarification. I was lucky that everyone at W+P is very considerate when it comes to explaining and clarifying my doubts.

Enthusiasm is invaluable

As a PR intern, I discovered it’s essential to be enthusiastic and open to learning new skills, asking for more work and being curious to learn and ask questions. This attitude will show that you enjoy being part of the team and that you're keen to help. Having curiosity and enthusiasm also means that, as an intern, you get a lot out of what you’re doing, which opens lots of opportunities.

The benefits of taking on feedback

Asking for and receiving professional feedback is very important. It is essential to take note of both the positive and negative points for the future, so you can grow and excel in your career. Asking for feedback is always helpful because at the end of the day, there is always room for improvement.

I learned that sometimes asking for feedback or receiving feedback is difficult to hear, but it will have a significant impact on your future career and success.

 How important good communication is

Communication is the key to success in a professional environment. I learned that it’s important to communicate with my manager via phone, email or Slack if I have questions or if I don’t know how to work on a task.

Asking for help and clarification is better than pretending you’ve understood what you need to do, no matter what. Avoiding asking questions if you can find answers elsewhere is part of being a good communicator – keep in mind that everyone’s time is valuable. As an intern, good communication will help with productivity, efficiency, engagement and growth.

It has been a very exciting experience as a PR intern and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn and develop the skills needed for working in PR. I cannot wait to see what the remainder of my internship has to offer. 

13/07/2022

Insight: Weighing in on politics – is it right for my brand?

With Bojo finally accepting his fate and addressing the nation of his resignation, many businesses saw this as an opportunity to leverage their brand on social media.

But how do you know when political commentary is right for your brand? Should you engage with political discourse by any memes possible?

Well, here's a roundup of some fab, and not-so-fab attempts at reactive social content and PR.

Brewdog's BOJO BOGO beer

Brewdog bring out 4 new beers amid Boris Johnson's resignation

Boris first in line at Blackpool's Job Centre

Blackpool's Madame Tussauds take Boris Johnson's statue and place it outside of the Job Centre after his resignation announcement

Iceland solves the cabinet problem

Iceland (the supermarket brand) jump on the bandwagon and use Boris Johnson's resignation as a meme

What to do (and what not to do)

Be quick BUT accurate.

Newsjacking only works when the story is still being talked about.

There's nothing worse than getting to the joke too late. The moment has passed. The topic has moved on. But you're still clinging on to it like Gary Barlow and his glory days of Take That.

But ensure you're well versed. Do your research so you can defend your position.

Whether you swing left, right or sit right in the middle, diving your brand head first into the political agenda can have consequences. Be careful not to alienate supporters, unless this is the objective, of course.

But if you're keen to make a stand, here are a few things to think about:

  • What are people saying? Look at what other brands in your industry are saying. The opinions of your customers and the general viewpoint of the population.
  • Is it relevant? Your brand has a voice, personality and values. Consider if the issue is relevant to your brand before you jump on the bandwagon.
  • Does it affect your audience? If it's going to positively or negatively impact their lives, this could be the time to take a stance - but be prepared to be challenged.
  • Are the facts clear? Avoid petty party politics, heresay, and rumours and stick to the evidence

20/06/2022

News: What did you miss at London Tech Week?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that last week was the annual London Tech Week.  

London Tech Week 2022 Logo

Covering an abundance of tech themes and hosted by some very talented panelists, there was much to learn at London Tech Week. 

We know it can be a minefield finding out what actually went on, so that’s why we’ve created a roundup of the key takeaways from London Tech Week...

The Tech Industry

Climate Tech

Government Policy 

Diversity in Tech 

Emerging Technologies 


If you've enjoyed our London Tech Week roundup, why not chat to us about all things tech PR? Drop us a line at hello@wordsandpixels.co.

16/06/2022

Awards: CIPR’s Small PR Consultancy of the Year

One week on, the Words + Pixels team are still buzzing with excitement about winning Small PR Consultancy of the Year at the CIPR Excellence Awards. The hangovers have, however, thankfully passed.

To win our first PR award at only two years old deserved a serious celebration.

As a new startup...

The recognition meant a lot to the whole team. Every day we help to shine the light on other exciting businesses and their incredible work. To have that beam directed our way for one evening felt special.

In their feedback, the CIPR Excellence judges credited us as “an agency with a clear focus and direction. Securing amazing levels of coverage for clients whilst looking after its people, and growing the business”. 

It is this direction and focus that we believe sets us apart.

I launched the agency with the idea of partnering with new, innovative businesses, telling the stories of companies changing the world. To do this, we needed to staff our business with a team of shared values - disruptive, personal, supportive, passionate- and develop the right client relationships to make that work possible.  Those relationships needed to be close. For most, closer than they had experienced in their previous roles.

Our clients’ feedback has testified to the success of that approach. In our first 360 degree review, clients scored us 9 out of 10 on the coverage we secured them. They scored us 9 out of 10 for our strategic guidance. And they scored us a near perfect (there’s always room to improve…) 9.8 out of 10 for our client comms.

Even better, when asked whether they would recommend us to other companies, almost everyone said “without question”.

The Pixels

Our great start to this journey is completely down to those that have created those unbreakable relationships - the Pixels. Our team is special and we know it. Our success is only possible together, challenging each other to go further. 

This accolade is testament to each person involved. I could not be more grateful. 

If you want to join our special group, (and be a part of CIPR's small consultancy of the year) get in touch at jobs@wordsandpixels.co. We’re always looking for our next superstar. But until then, here’s to the next one! 

bottle of champagne with CIPR award for Small PR consultancy of the year

13/05/2022

Advice: 12 tips for tackling your first media interview 

So, you landed your first interview... Congrats! But what now?

Learn how to prepare for a media interview here! Landing your first media interview is no mean feat. Some journalists receive hundreds (if not thousands) of pitches a day, so when they decide they want to write about you, take a hot minute to celebrate!

However, whether you approached them or vice versa, getting them interested is only half the battle. You now need to give them a story worth writing about

So, what next?

Preparation. Is. Key.

(Otherwise you'll end up like this bloke)

Even those that spend a lot of time in the eyes of the media will take time to research before giving an interview. 

Here are our top tips for how to prepare before your first media interview, stay on track, and build a relationship with the journalist once it’s done. 

1. Ask the right questions

First things first, ask about the piece. A journalist isn’t likely to give you the interview questions in advance, but there’s a small window before where you can ask a few questions of your own so you understand where they're coming from and their expectations.

Make sure to ask about:

  • The angle they’re approaching it from
  • The format of the interview
  • Anyone else they’ll be speaking to for the piece
  • How much time they need from you
  • The publishing date (make a note in your calendar and circle it in red ink!)

2. Read the media outlet 

You'd be surprised how many people go into an interview without ever having read the outlet they’re about to feature in...

Understanding the publication provides invaluable insight into:

  • Its editorial slant
  • How much detail the interviewer is likely to go into
  • The interests of its readers

We always tell our clients to prep this way, because then you can prepare with information about your business that is going to be most relevant for the journalist.

The best tip (and we can't emphasise this enough) is if you’re being interviewed for a regular slot then read the previous articles. You'll get a good indication of the questions you’re likely to get asked. 

3. Research the journalist

We're not telling you to go overboard buttering the journo up, but a thin spread wouldn't go amiss. Look at stories they’ve written recently and how they’ve covered specific industries or themes:

  • Are they pro or against certain issues?
  • Is there a specific theme running through their pieces?
  • Have they written about your industry before, and if so, how was it covered?

Journalists all have their own agenda and this will likely feed into their interview with you so it’s worth getting to know them through their writing. Make sure to follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn too, you might be able to find the name of their dog or favourite take away which will be handy when trying to form a relationship with them.

4. Write down your key messages

Now you’re familiar with the outlet and the journalist, start to write down a list of the things that you want to get across in the interview.

These should be things you want people to know about your business and offering, but there should be no more than five or six.

Importantly, they should be tailored towards the audience of the outlet, and the article the journalist is writing. There's no point talking about why you're the best consumer offering on the market in Leeds, if you're speaking to a B2B audience in Bristol.

5. Remember you’re ‘on the record’

Remember The Bill? Of course you do, so you know that anything you do say may be given in evidence.

No really, anything you say to a journalist can be published. So, as a general rule of thumb, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to appear in capitals on the front page. Stick to the facts and don’t speculate, and definitely don’t criticise competitors...

In fact, don’t talk about them at all, this is your interview!

6. Build a rapport 

When the interview starts, use this opportunity to build a rapport with the journalist. How, you ask?

  • Be friendly
  • Thank them for their time and the opportunity
  • Mention something they’ve written that you liked
  • Throughout the interview, be helpful and answer the questions, offering to share additional detail with them that will help their story
  • Follow them on social media

7. You don’t need to know everything 

If a question comes up during the interview that you don’t know the answer to, the best thing is to avoid making it up on the spot and hoping for the best. It rarely works.

It’s fine to let them know that you want to fact check something and will send the correct information after the interview. 

8. Follow up 

Building a rapport is all in the aftercare, so treat the interview like a first date.

Even if you haven’t promised to send any additional information, follow up with the journalist once the interview is done. Thank them for their time and to check they have everything they need, whether its images, stats or facts. If the journalist does request anything, share it with them as soon as you can as they will likely be on a deadline. 

9. Wait for the article 

Now it’s just a waiting game.

If the journalist gave you a publication date, don’t chase them before then. If that date comes and goes, send a polite email to check they have everything they need and ask when it will be going live.

Remember though, for most journalists the publication date is usually out of their control, so be patient. 

10. Share the coverage 

When the piece comes out, read it thoroughly to check for factual inaccuracies. Assuming there are none and it’s a positive and accurate reflection of your interview, shout about it! Share it on social media, with your team and customers, and don’t forget to thank the journalist to let them know how much you like it. 

11. What if they got something wrong?

If there is a factual inaccuracy, for example the spelling of a name or an incorrect date, politely let the journalist know and ask if they can update the article with the correct information.

Accuracy is super important for journalists too, so this should never be a problem. Remember though, not liking the piece or headline is not a factual inaccuracy. 

12. Stay in touch 

Journalists move around a lot as they climb the ranks...

While they might be at a smaller trade or industry publication now, many move on to national and mainstream publications to focus their specialisms.

  • Stay in touch with them
  • Follow them on social media and engage with their posts
  • Read their articles and message them about anything you like or have an opinion on. It will help them remember you for anything they’re writing in the future. 

And Voila! You're now equipped to smash your first media interview. Good luck!

Need media training?

Find our services here, or contact us at hello@wordsandpixels.co - can't wait to chat with you!

21/04/2022

Tech: A commitment to telling the stories of companies changing the world

Words + Pixels have signed the Clean Creatives pledge to cement our commitment to a cleaner creative future. We're also spotlighting some of the best GreenTech companies out there.

Between 2008 - 2017 fossil fuel trade associations spent almost $1.4 billion on PR, advertising and communications contracts. In 2020, current and recent fossil fuel clients invested $57.9 billion annually in new fossil fuel projects. 

We don’t think that’s right. 

The UK Ad and PR industry must address their contribution to the climate crisis.

That’s why last year we signed the Clean Creatives pledge. This is a commitment from Words + Pixels to refuse work from companies whose primary business is the extraction, transportation, and processing of fossil fuels, or power companies with more than 50% of their generation in fossil fuels, or with trade associations representing the interests of fossil fuel companies.

From the circular economy to shared transport, energy innovation and climate tech, the good news is that investment in GreenTech startups is growing

Since Words + Pixels launched, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of challenger brands in this space. Each of them working to change the way we live, travel, consume products, save food and power spaces. 

Words + Pixels 🤝 GreenTech Companies  

Back Market

Had you ever considered the environmental impact of buying new technology? For our client Back Market, the largest refurbished tech marketplace, we launched a campaign to highlight just how little people knew about the impact of buying new tech, and show just how much unnecessary tech they were buying.  

Kindora

Another startup helping us make more sustainable, circular choices. Founded by Sarah Oulette and based in Ireland, Kindora is a reselling platform that specialises in designer children’s items, helping parents’ save money, time, and the environment.

Want to learn more about Sarah and her journey? Read more here

Oaktree Power Ltd

One of Words + Pixels’ newest clients is disrupting commercial property. Energy prices are seemingly higher than ever, and globally we rely heavily on fossil fuels to power our cities.

Oaktree Power Limited provides a solution by helping building owners reduce their energy consumption.

Their hardware and software can automatically reduce the building's energy consumption by monitoring the building's usage and turning it down for short periods of time when needed. This helps companies to maximise their energy savings and can help them to reach net zero emissions.

New innovation is supporting the world’s sustainability efforts 

We’re lucky enough to work with some incredible brands doing their bit for the planet, but it doesn't stop there and the GreenTech tech sector is booming.

From hyper-growth scaleups to small creative startups, and everything in between. Here’s some of our favourites:

Future Farm

The future is plant based! Future Farm is an independent food company that uses cutting-edge tech to create the best plant based meat on the market – mince, burgers, sausages, meatballs and chicken.

Future farm has a vision that people will choose plant-based meat substitutes because it outperforms in all areas.

Clim8

Clim8 Invest help climate conscious invest their money in an environmentally-friendly way. When users invest, they can help make a positive impact on the environment. Clim8's 6 core themes guide their sustainability efforts and include: clean energy, clean technology, smart mobility, clean water, the circular economy, and sustainable food.

Clim8 also invest in companies and specialist green funds focused on tackling the climate crisis.

Wild

Wild offers a sustainable deodorant subscription service. Users buy one refillable deodorant container and subscribe to infills based on their needs.

In its infancy, Wild had already amassed over 200,000 followers on social media and 5,500 five star reviews on Trustpilot - highlighting the popularity and potential of this natural, refillable deodorant brand.

TreeCard

Most bank cards are made from first use plastics... These cards have a lifespan of only four years!

TreeCard offers an alternative: wooden payment cards. These cards help to fund reforestation via the interchange fees that are generated with every transaction.

Contact us if you want to chat about leveraging PR for your GreenTech company!

Click here to see the services we offer.

18/03/2022

Insight: A day in my life in my first week in PR

Get some of my essential tips to smash your first week at your new job in PR.

Hey 👋 I'm Daniel and today is the final day of my first week working as a Junior Account Executive at Words + Pixels

While I know I’m far from being an expert in the field, my PR industry knowledge has increased exponentially in the short time that I have been working at the agency and I am excited to keep this train rolling.

News alerts will become your best friend

I didn't have any previous experience before joining W+P, in fact, I only recently graduated from my journalism degree. That's not a problem though, I've developed a wealth of transferable skills that can be applied to PR and I've already been putting them into practice.

Being up to date with world news, is one of the most important parts of my role. As a PR you need to know what's happening generally on the global stage, but also be aware of news that relates to your clients industry. This way you can be constantly reacting to breaking news.

My journalism training means I'm used to the demands of constantly being on top of topical, breaking news.

Understanding of PR

Having had no previous experience working in PR, I honestly didn’t know what to expect in my opening week. As I have found in previous jobs, often you are thrown into tasks and expected to immediately understand how to do it, which can be pretty daunting.

However, working at Words + Pixels was the complete opposite.

The rest of the team at W+P could not have been more helpful in moderating the workload and gradually increasing the responsibilities that I have, only after offering extensive help and feedback on the work I produce.

Public relations is an effective way of building relations with a multitude of audiences depending on the clients’ focus. Already, I understand the process of gathering relevant coverage and how it relates to our clients; as well as the methods of delivering pitches to journalists, publications and other media outlets.

In this first week, I've gotten a broad understanding of how PR works across a variety of clients, all requiring very different needs. I've had the opportunity to work with Seed Legals to discuss the struggles of fundraising, to working with Lime to promote the expansion of their e-scooter program in cities across the country.

Teamwork

Having completed my first week at my new job in PR, the importance of teamwork was very apparent.

Clients are assigned to teams of small numbers to ensure that they receive quality coverage and support. Working in conjunction with your team is the most effective way to provide the best service for your clients.

I've loved working with the team at Words + Pixels. Everyone is more than happy to help, even if it's regarding a client they don't directly work with. The team flag important updates about their client in daily standups; this provides us with a holistic view of client activity across the agency.

Having a team on hand to help with anything creates a culture where you feel supported - even as a newbie to PR!

Even though it’s early days, I can see there is a clear path for me in this industry and I couldn't be more enthusiastic about developing in this role.

Words + Pixels feels like the perfect place to improve my knowledge and understanding of PR. The people and working environment couldn't be any more welcoming; they've given me a brilliant introduction to my first PR job.

I'm one week in and I'm looking forward to seeing where this job takes me!

08/03/2022

Interview: Radha Vyas, Co-Founder and CEO of Flash Pack on International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias

The gender pay gap, male-dominated C-suite positions, and lack of opportunity to progress. These are just some examples of gender bias that women experience in the workplace.

Flash Pack's Co-Founder and CEO Rahda Vyas spoke to Words + Pixels about what International Women's Day means to her, and get her take on gender bias in the workplace.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1T7A8665-3.jpg

What does IWD mean to you? 

International Women's Day is a good reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done to reach gender equality in society and the workplace.

Has motherhood changed how you operate in business? 

Absolutely. I no longer have any time to faff! Everyday has to be hyper-focused

What do you think the biggest misconception is regarding women in business? 

I think the biggest misconception is that people think women lack confidence and need mentoring or coaching from male colleagues.

Wrong! Women are simply overlooked.

What are the biggest challenges you face when implementing gender equality in the workplace? 

At Flash Pack, we are trying to meet our diversity and inclusion goals. However, this is difficult when there is already an enormous amount of pressure to hire talent quickly. Trying to fill the top of the recruitment funnel with enough diverse talent is extremely hard. 

What advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your career? 

Don’t settle. Work for a company with impeccable values that will help you thrive. 

How does your company culture address the gender disparity between men and women in the workplace? 

We realised that giving new employees an uplift on their previous salary was perpetuating the gender pay gap. Instead, we have moved towards pay transparency across the company. 

Do you experience gender bias as a woman in a C-suite management position? 

Yes! I believe there are certain expectations of me as a female leader. For instance, my employees view me through a different lens than my male counterparts. By this, I mean they judge and evaluate my decisions more so than male colleagues.

Flash Pack's success among 30-and-40 something solo travelers

Flash Pack is an adventure travel company who ensure their travelers return home with experiences that are not easily replicable.

What's so different about them, you ask?

Designed specifically for 30-and-40-something solo travelers, Flash Pack's can be sure to visit some breathtaking locations, including Morocco, Japan, Croatia, and Bali.

Follow Radha on LinkedIn

We also caught up Kindora's founder and CEO on International Women's Day. Check out the blog here.

08/03/2022

Interview: Kindora’s Founder and CEO Sarah Ouellette on International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias

It’s Tuesday 8th March, and it’s International Women’s Day. This year’s theme #BreakTheBias aims to challenge the unfair gender bias that women face in today’s society.

Sarah Ouellette is the Founder and CEO of Kindora, a platform to buy, rent, and sell baby goods. We had a chat with her to explore how motherhood has impacted her career, and how she tackles gender bias in her own company.

Sarah, CEO and founder of baby reselling platform, Kindora. Words + Pixels interviewed Sarah about International Women's Day and how she tackles gender bias at her company

Has motherhood changed how you operate in business? 

Without being a mother, Kindora would not have existed, or in my opinion, even mattered to others. That being said, it is an everyday mental workout to manage everything.  I'm more efficient with time and I make decisions faster but it's hard.

What advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your career?

It's okay not to know everything!  Take the time to learn and unlearn!

What are the biggest challenges you face when implementing gender equality in the workplace? 

We want to hire smart people across the board in our business – from sales to marketing to business growth. We've intentionally focused on finding as many women as possible to add to the team, but there are times where there just haven't been as many women in the candidate pool.  The same thing happened with Angel investors in our business.  Although our biggest investors are women, more men are on our investor list.  

What do you think the biggest misconception is regarding women in business? 

In the early stage of startups, I'd say there's a sense that women need more advice or mentoring – often discussed in Sifted. In fact, women are statistically better at pitching and need investment more than advice. Tessa Clarke, the founder of Olio, just wrote a great piece in Sifted about this.

Do you experience gender bias as a woman in a C-suite management position? 

Early in my career I progressed quickly to C-suite and was often the only woman at that level.  It wasn't until I was pregnant and had a baby that I felt the real difference in how I was perceived and treated. 

How does your company culture address the gender disparity between men and women in the workplace? 

We have a 50/50 split in our staff but, most importantly, we are constantly walking the talk in our investor set and advisors.  We're currently raising our seed round – as we speak (!!!) - and have prioritised VC funds with at least one female decision maker in the fund.

Kindora text logo. Kindora are tackling gender bias lead by female founder and CEO sarah ouellette.

Europe's platform to buy and sell baby goods

Kindora is an award winning platform to buy, sell, rent premium baby and children’s items that are not just as good as new – they’re better than new. Every item you buy, rent or sell on Kindora is one item less added to the mountain range of new goods manufactured each year. 

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Follow Sarah on LinkedIn

Check out our interview with Flash Pack's Radha Vyas on International Women's Day 2022 here.

11/01/2022

Advice: Top tips for smashing your PR in 2022

Step up your PR game in 2022

New Year, New Me right? Well, whether you’re forcing yourself into new habits or putting your hands up to the thought of changing yourself every new year, there’s one thing we can all agree on - and that’s that 2022 will undoubtedly be a wild ride for every PR out there. Check out some of our top tips for PR below.

We spoke to Anna Brech, previously digital editor at Stylist, to get her take on PR in 2022. 

We spoke to Anna Brech, previously digital editor at Stylist, to get her take on PR in 2022. 

How has your relationship with PRs changed during the Pandemic?

I think the tenor of the conversation has changed slightly. The PRs I speak to have always been great but the Pandemic has meant we’ve slowed down a bit. We’ve given more leeway and paid attention to the personal cues more on either side. 

Generally, we’ve taken more time to (genuinely) check how people are and vice versa. There’s definitely less chasing journalists as PRs know there has been a lot of change due to the Pandemic and not all journalists are in the same position. 

Essentially, the past couple of years has reminded both journalists and PRs that everyone has their personal battles to deal with on the sidelines of their day jobs. 

The result of these changes in the relationship between journalists and PRs? The story ideas are also becoming more interesting and relevant, perhaps because of the febrile news climate

What could PRs do better in 2022 to get your attention?

  1. Offer really great, human-led stories  of the kind that a journalist would struggle to find on their own. Journalists definitely have less time and resources these days so PRs can fill that gap with stories that truly stand out. A good measure of that is, “would you click on the email title you’ve created, if it were a headline?”. 
  1. Pitches need to be succinct, but at the same time filled with substance. There are no shortcuts to this, it’s just about thorough research and attention to detail. Journalists have to believe that what is in the pitch will make an original and strong story. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of occasion-hooked stories (e.g. International Women’s Day) as the links can be quite tenuous and these events tend to be saturated with stories as is. It’s almost like a cheap win in journo terms. The exception to this would be pitching products for round-ups e.g. for Easter etc. 
  1. Original surveys are also good but the trick to this is getting great questions to begin with. Before you commission the study, reverse engineer to work out what the ideal headline will be from the answers you’ll get. Then you can drum up questions that will get much juicier, more on-point answers. That’s more effective than the more common but scattergun approach of asking a whole load of general questions and seeing what stories come out of it. 

What are your predictions for media and journalism in 2022?

I think the conversation around diversity and racial justice will continue to be a major theme for 2022, and journalists will be looking for original angles to extend focus in new directions on this far-reaching, evolving topic. The same goes for stories around mental health, new working habits (sparked by the pandemic but also moving beyond) and sustainability (especially from the perspective of local/ global communities). 

Stories around emerging tech such as AI and AR will continue to command attention, too.

As the internet becomes ever more crowded and saturated, we’ll also see an emphasis on longer-form, meaningful stories that spotlight hidden or lesser-known voices. This kind of content will be the equivalent of a good podcast: well-researched, in-depth and laying the groundwork for a stronger connection between brand and reader. 

Strong creatives will also have a role to play here: think expandable animations, interactive graphics, podcasts and other rich media formats to bring individual narratives to life and extend their shelf life.

What was your favourite story from 2021?

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/may/06/guardian-200-ad-that-saved-jewish-father-from-nazis

This incredible piece delved into the stories of a small group of Jewish child refugees who gained sanctuary in Britain just before the outbreak of WW2. It’s really beautifully investigated, pulling together complex and poignant first-person stories from the refugees themselves and also their surviving families. The fact that the journalist also has a personal connection to the story makes it even more powerful. 

It’s an unforgettable and hugely moving account that was also made into a podcast (see note above on ways to expand long-form content). Amid all the quick, easy-win stories online, this kind of storytelling stands out - combining rich, old-school reportage with new tech to augment the key facts. 

Top tip for new PRs in 2022

  1. Less is more: better to contact someone fewer times but make each pitch really strong so that journos come to know that they can rely on you as a great source. A good selection of photos are always great even at first pitch stage, but don’t use attachments, just links (as these are far easier to access and avoid cluttering someone’s inbox). 
  1. The same goes for not using a word doc as a press release: it’s a minor detail but a release is so much better and more convenient as copy within the email itself. If you make a mistake in a release and it’s minor (e.g. a typo) don’t send out a correction: it only draws attention to it. 
  1. Chase someone once a few days after you’ve made the initial pitch but not more than that - no answer is a no, but most journos will be too busy to say that (would be the nice and right thing to do but it’s just not realistic). 
  1. Don’t run embargoes on stories unless it is really huge e.g. Apple releasing a new watch, otherwise it runs the risk of appearing self-important and is also annoying to work around. Online journos I know tend to work very much in the moment, so have all the info you need to hand at once to pitch, and try to avoid saying “I have a story but it’s not available right now - would you be interested?”. It is much better to give all relevant information at once, so the journalist can make a judgement call. 

01/11/2021

Insight: My first month in PR

Today marks not only the completion of my first month as a Junior Account Executive at Words + Pixels, but also in the wider industry, and I can firmly say I have learnt a huge amount in the short time I have spent with the agency.

Read more

26/05/2021

The new home of Words + Pixels

Welcome to the new and improved home of Words + Pixels! It’s been 18 months since I launched the agency and of course it has not been without its challenges (a global pandemic to name one), but it’s been an incredible journey so far.

This new image showcases what we’ve become. 

Since March of last year, we have grown almost 600%, from a few clients to a few dozen, with a similar trend in our team - the W+P family is now in double figures and growing by the week, with two new joiners this month alone.

On a personal level, it’s also been an incredible (read: tiring, incredible, indescribable) time for me and my wife Jenna as we welcomed our son Ollie into the world on bonfire night. 

Juggling fatherhood and founder responsibilities, both rather new feats, have been a huge learning curve but with the ability to work flexibly and building a team that supports each other has made both jobs infinitely easier.

To cap off our first year and a half, we were recently nominated for our first award - the  ‘new agency of the year’ in the PRmoment awards. This is testament to the hard work and dedication the team have put in, and win or lose, this is a hugely exciting moment for all of us and we’ll be celebrating either way.

Hope you like the new site. If it’s your first time, welcome, but either way, we’d love to hear from you! 

25/05/2021

Insight: Working remotely…what it’s really like

Back in March, when we were told we’d be working from home (WFH), it seemed a trivial idea that wouldn’t last much longer than a few weeks. But, as time passed and the realities of WFH started to sync in, I had to find mechanisms to cope with my “new normal”.

As a social person the initial realisation that I wouldn’t be working from an office for the foreseeable future was incredibly daunting. Knowing I'd have to sit in my room, clock on at 8:30am, and communicate with my colleagues through a computer screen frightened me.

But, they say it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit, and an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.

Slowly but surely though, I have adjusted to enjoy the balance of WFH while continuing to have time in the office through regular face-to-face team meetings.

It’s been a journey and here are some of the main things I’ve learnt along the way:

  • In order to not only complete your work, but do it well, you have to learn to be independent and self-motivated. You are your own manager and not having in-person meetings or being able to grab a colleague for a quick chat, can be hard. Here at Words + Pixels, to combat this, we break up our days by having daily team video meetings, ensuring everyone is accessible through team collaboration platforms and we even meet up (in person) on a regular basis.
  • Concentration is often something office workers struggle with, and I was no exception. Whether it’s a co-worker talking about their weekend, a loud team meeting you can hear from your desk or the office phone ringing off the hook, the distractions in an office setting are hard to avoid. I have found though, when working from home, there are fewer distractions which allows me to better focus on what I’m doing and become more productive as a result.
  • Cabin-fever is real and sitting in front of your computer screen, for hours on end is not conducive to good work. To help with this, I’ve made it a rule of thumb to leave the house at least twice a day, even if it's just popping to the shops or taking a quick walk. This has not only improved my concentration and productivity, but it's also helped me maintain a good level of activity.
  • My very short commute of walking down the stairs has allowed me to take better control of my time, diet, work/life balance and even my sleeping pattern. Not having to sit on a train, get on the tube, or drive to work five days a week has enabled me to be a lot more productive with my social and work time. I would also recommend waking up early to fit in a bit of exercise; it’s a great way to get the brain working and endorphins flowing ahead of the day.

Now that the majority of the UK has been working from home for the last six months, it’s inevitable future ways of working will look different. While this has its pros and cons, the takeaway is that the future will be flexible, with a mixture of WFH complimenting that all important office time.

If you’re looking for a fun agency to work for, a more flexible workplace, and a great team, why not get in touch to see what we can offer you?

25/05/2021

Tech: Top 9 environmental apps to help you go green in 2021

Sustainable living has never been more important and luckily with the help of modern technology helping the environment is easy. From tackling food waste, to planting trees and recycling old clothes, there are a range of handy apps to make living a greener life a little easier.  

If we all make small changes, collectively we can make a big difference and help save the planet. So, with that being said, below are the best sustainable apps to help you become greener in 2021. 

Forest

For those who need help concentrating, Forest helps you to stay focussed. When users want to be productive, they can plant a tree on Forest which will grow as they concentrate, helping users to get off their phones and get stuff done. If you try to cut your focus time short and leave the app early, the tree will die. Whenever users plant a tree in the app, Forest will plant one in real life, so far, Forest has planted over a million trees. 

CoGo

This real-time carbon footprint tracker is a gamechanger for those looking to shop and live ethically. It tracks the carbon impact of your spending and encourages users to think twice before making purchases that negatively affect the environment. The app also directs users towards businesses that are doing good for their staff, and paying the living wage.

Young Planet

This is a great “cashless” platform where parents can list or request different children’s items for free. From books and clothes to toys and baby equipment, everything on the app that is exchanged helps avoid the landfill. 

Giki

Giki provides ethical information about more than 280,000 household products, from food and drink to cosmetics. Items are rated on how ethical, sustainable or healthy they are and users are able to scan products to receive ratingsIf a product has a low score, more environmentally alternatives are suggested. 

reGAIN

Cleared out your wardrobe in lockdown and thinking about donating to the charity shop? Well reGAIN recycles old and used clothes, giving users money off coupons in return. reGAIN will then sort through donated clothes and recycle what they can. Anything that can’t be recycled is sent to a waste-to-energy plant to produce electricity. 

Karma

This innovative food waste app allows restaurants and caterers to sell unwanted food, preventing it from going to waste. App users are able to choose from the best nearby restaurants and pick up their favourite treats at  a fraction of the original cost. 

PaperKarma

We all suffer from annoying junk mail but always forget to unsubscribe. PaperKarma is the mobile app that allows users to automatically unsubscribe from unwanted mail simply by taking a picture of their post- helping to reduce paper waste and save trees. 

Happy Cow

The free app helps vegans and vegetarians find restaurants, cafes and bars using users' locations. This restaurant finder is available in multiple countries across the world and has a community of active users. 

Refill

Refills mission is super simple- to help people live with less plastic. Refill shows users locations where they can fill up reusable water bottles, and with over 30,000 stations listed on the app, you’re sure to find nearby. According to their site,  if just one in ten Brits used Refill once a week there would be less than 340 million plastic bottles in circulation, which we can definitely get on board with. 

17/05/2021

Tech: Five apps to help your mental health

Mental health issues have seen a huge increase in the UK during the pandemic, and as we start Mental Health Awareness week it's vital we understand how we are feeling and what options are available to us. 

So, if you are feeling blue, or know someone who might be struggling, there are a number of apps that can provide help. While these apps aren’t a replacement for professional support, they can provide some relief in the early stages of mental health struggles and could prevent issues from snowballing. 

Thrive

Thrive is an NHS recommended mental wellbeing platform that gives users the tools and insights they need to help manage and prevent common mental health conditions, like stress and anxiety. This free app is completely confidential, giving users management techniques and personalised wellbeing plans as well as signposting them to external support services directly in the app so individuals can seek immediate help if they ever need it. 

Cove

This unique  app helps users improve their mental health through the power of music. Instead of relying on words to help describe how they feel, users are able to capture their moods by creating instrumental music that can then be shared or saved. By being able to externalise how we feel about something, Cove can help to to replace the feelings of grief, anxiety, and a range of other emotions, with something users can see and hear.

BetterHelp

BetterHelp connects users to licensed mental health professionals, all in the comfort of your own home. All of their therapists have clinical experience and are qualified to provide online therapy such as cognitive behavioural, dialectical, psychodynamic and many more. Users can securely communicate with therapists at their own pace, whether that's on a phone or video call or simply messaging. Users can sign up for  a seven day free trial and after that it costs upwards from £24.50 per week. 

Togetherall

Togetherall is a half social network and half group therapy app, creating an anonymous, safe and supportive community for people who are suffering with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The community is moderated by professionals and counsellors, and provides a range of self-guided support through dedicated courses, resources and assessments, all designed to help users work through their pain points in a safe and supportive environment. Togetherall is free and accessible through NHS referrals, health insurance providers and employers. 

Aura

This AI driven app gives users personalised mindfulness exercises, helping to  improve mood and lessen anxiety. Aura has a wide range of services including mindfulness, meditation, life coaching tools, inspiring stories, and music, all created by leading emotional health coaches to help restore user’s inner peace and mental health. 

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