New Year’s Resolutions

Food resolutions

By Adrienne


Last night I went to the supermarket – and broke one of my New Year’s resolutions. No, I didn’t buy chocolate (well, OK, I did, but that’s not the point).


The point of failure wasn’t so much buying the chocolate (Jaffa Cakes and Chocolate Digestives, in case you’re wondering); the failure was not being able to put the chocolate in the food bank trolley.


Why? Because when I asked where the trolley had gone I was told the scheme was only for the Christmas period.


Now, I’m sure I’ll be able to get this resolution back on track by finding a new donation point over the next couple of days, but it got me thinking about the message that this sends out.


Politics and the necessity for food donations aside, surely that trolley should be there beyond the festive period. Food, like dogs, isn’t just for Christmas!


So, come on Morrisons. Bring that trolley back and I’ll put stuff in it (and it won’t just be chocolate)!

Taking time to think creatively

Thinking about creative communications

Paul Sanderson Hanicke Robins Sanderson
By Paul


I’m sure like for most people, 2016 has been a really busy year for me – in a good way obviously.


Christmas is one of the few times when I can really switch off for a while. The email alerts on my phone dwindle to a trickle, and it gives me time to think.


But that time to think is also an opportunity to be creative and ideas seem to pop into my head at those moments when I’m less focused.

Creative approach


I’m writing this blog after spending time doing some creative work for a client, and I find it really important to get away from my desk for a bit, and properly think and focus without distraction when being creative.


At Hanicke Robins Sanderson, we pride ourselves on thinking a bit differently at times. This can mean challenging our clients to be ‘Deliberately Bold’ and ‘Strategically Clever’ just like our company strapline.


Sometimes when we have a creative session with a client, this will be the first time in a long time they have sat down and had a proper think about their business. Often it becomes about whether their objectives should have changed as the business develops.


Quite often they start thinking they want one thing in terms of their communications, but realise they need another.


Our job is to help them navigate through that, to think differently while respecting the good things they already do. Then we help them focus, and finally assist them strategically in communicating that to the outside world.


One of the reasons I believe we are very good at that, is that building in time to think is a crucial part of it, and allows the creative juices to flow.


As I’m lazily watching films while eating chocs over Christmas, I probably won’t be thinking about work too much. But an idea might suddenly appear, I’ll jot it down and get to work on it in January when I’m back.


In the meantime, Merry Christmas.

‘Post Truth Authenticity’ and other 2017 PR challenges…

Adrienne Robins







By Adrienne


A couple of years ago, I remember writing about the importance of transparency in the social media age. In summary, the narrative went something like this:

  • Social media gives everyone a voice
  • If you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, you’ll be called out – publicly
  • Be prepared – recognise and prepare for your skeletons; understand your shortfalls; build up your bank of goodness; do more to engage


And then 2016 happened.


This time last year we didn’t really have a clue what was coming. Or maybe we did have a clue – but we couldn’t acknowledge it or put it into words. At least collectively.


From a B2B PR perspective, I’ve seen so many organisations that got the whole ‘transparency’ thing. Trouble is, politically we either couldn’t or wouldn’t make that leap.


With the benefit of hindsight, if politicians had listened and responded a bit more maybe we’d be in a different place right now.
Instead we’re in a world where ‘post truth’ has happened. And 80s ‘dinkys’* (remember them) have disappointingly turned into ‘jams’**. If you’re of a certain age then it is possible that you could have started out a dinky, turned nimby and ended up in a bit of a jam. Really.
Thing is, post truth blatantly stamps all over transparency. So, do we throw our hands up and forget about it and resolve to change the story to fit the situation as required?
I think not.
So, just how should we be preparing our PR and comms strategies for the year ahead? Here are five areas that you should be concentrating on.


  1. Ensure you’re interesting: just because the world around you feels a little bit odd, that’s no excuse to revert to boring messages. Publishers are crying out for content, but unless it’s thought provoking, new and maybe a little bit controversial it’ll head straight into the bin.
  2. Be authentic: authenticity is the new transparency. Live your messaging and follow it through. Of course, you can surprise people – but do it in a good way. Remember those mission statements and values – go back to them and see if you’re really living the dream.
  3. Unleash your caring side: pick up the CSR baton, but try and make it a bit more human and spontaneous. If you or your team do something good – don’t strategise the comms into the ground. Just get out there and talk about it, in a natural, warm voice.
  4. Connect and collaborate: now, more than ever, it’s apparent that people want to meet ‘real’ people and work together to effect change and new opportunities. Get out from behind your content and listen. Add to the debate. Be brave (see point 1). Shape the outcome.
  5. Look for clarity of outcomes: when it comes to PR, measurement has long been a dirty word. Fact is, for most clients it’s about impact on real business objectives. When putting in place new PR campaigns, focus on deliverables and overarching objectives, not column inches. Get KPIs in place and everyone knows the required direction of travel.


Wishing you all a Happy 2017!


* DINKY: double income no kids yet, an acronym from the have-it-all, shoulder-padded, excessive 80s


** JAM: for those that have spent the last month on the moon, Teresa May’s shorthand for those that are Just About Managing and clearly can’t afford a new pair of leather trousers (although they may be wiser to make a different fashion choice)

I give in – it’s a Christmas marketing tradition!

Christmas shopping

Adrienne Robins





By Adrienne


This time last year I was somewhat underwhelmed with the John Lewis Christmas ad. And I said as much here. I also questioned whether it was time to go with something new. (Read the blog here).


It wasn’t.


Yesterday it was that time of year again – the official launch of Buster the Boxer. Now, I prefer this ad, although I must admit I’m not so keen on the accompanying track. But give it time. It will doubtless get into my head.


But that’s not why I’m posting. What has impressed me this year is the totally joined up activity that surrounds the John Lewis’ ad campaign. It makes it impossible to ignore. And this is how that joined up approach has grabbed my attention (I’m sure the touch points will be different for you).


  1. At the beginning of the week I started to see posts on Facebook about the ad going live (I know someone who works in the JL comms team, and they were super excited).
  2. I park in Waitrose and wonder in to buy a couple of bits and bobs. Gorgeous Christmas merch grabs my attention. At the till, the assistant asks if I have seen the ad. I say that I haven’t – but then, in uncharacteriscally British style, the other two people in the queue join in the conversation and, guess what, I’m the only person not to have seen it (It’s only just gone live this morning). The chap behind me says that as a My Waitrose card holder he got a preview. And the other lady has seen it on social media. I need to up my game.
  3. On the journey back from my meeting the national station DJ plays the track and talks briefly about the ad (it’s not a commercial station).
  4. Two hours later, I get home and make a cup of tea. I sink down in front of the TV and wonder if I’ll see the ad. Well, duh, of course I’ll see the ad, as it’s a ‘top pick’ on Sky’s home page. And yes, you’ve got it. I downloaded the ad. Seriously. I. Downloaded. A. TV. Ad. Not words I thought I’d be typing anytime soon (but then it’s been a Trumpety Trump week for that!)


So, move over Coca Cola ad. John Lews isn’t just on your tail. I think it might have overtaken your advertising juggernaut. Impressed. And it’s only 11 November.


Technical PR: the importance of understanding

Hanicke Robins Sanderson technical PR


It’s been a busy few months her at HRS Towers. Which is a good thing. And the technical nature of our projects has got us thinking: can technical PRs ever match the creativity that a PR generalist can bring?


Our answer is a resounding YES.


Technical PR doesn’t = boring. In fact, quite the opposite. It often requires more creativity to unpick the detail and confidently reconfigure it into a new, more engaging shape.


Our first year as a bona fide agency has provided us with some interesting technical PR and event opportunities, working on subjects as diverse as autonomous vehicles, industry 4.0 and robotics and electric powertrain shipping solutions as well as within our recognised comfort zone of recycling, waste management and all things environmental.


New technical PR clients have included The Recycling Association, Vanden Recycling and Visedo. On the events front we’ve completed two in Liverpool and are now planning several more in London for 2017.


Techical PR essentials

How have we helped clients most? Probably through our no-nonsense approach to techical PR which has enabled us to provide the necessary combination of strategic and creative communications advice, on the ground support and technical understanding.


And that last point is key: the technical nature of the landscape that we work in makes this difficult terrain for non-specialist comms advisors. While we don’t claim to know everything about recycling, waste management, automotive or powertrains – we know more than your average bear. And that means we can quickly identify and exploit media and event opportunities, getting technical PR campaigns out of the starting blocks without that typical bedding in period that might othewise be expected.


We also have the nouse to know when to challenge ‘techy traditions’ and when to leave well alone. We’ve seen what’s gone before, know the language, and understand the industry etiquette – and will take all of these into account when preparing technical PR campaigns.


This has most certainly paid dividends for our current clients, creating awareness through print and online media outlets and providing access to key influencers and bubbling industry-specific debates.


Indeed, after just a couple of weeks’ work, one client was already reporting that the ‘word’ was getting out, with their business development teams already enjoying the benefit of  being better known. That’s certainly an objective ticked (although not ticked right off!)


Of course, there are benefits from gaining a new perspective from someone outside of your sector – but in our experience those are outweighed by the advantages of an inbuilt industry shorthand which provides objective meeting shortcuts.


Regardless, creativity is a given.


Author: Adrienne

Adrienne Robins


An Explosion of Colour

Kirsty Hanicke






By Kirsty

Rainbow bagels, Cragels (part croissant and part bagel, and a promise to sell breakfast all day if you are nice are just some of the offerings from The Bagel Store in Brooklyn, NY.
Scott Rossillo, the self proclaimed world’s premier bagel artist is a native Brooklynite an accent to match, complete with earrings, tattoo sleeves, and a genuine spirituality that blends into his work. He is the man behind the rainbow bagel, bagels that have been swirled with vibrant colours that don’t bleed or fade and taste a lot like Fruit Loops and are usually stuffed with Funfetti cream cheese.
Through Rossillo’s commitment, experience, and expertise The Bagel Store has established a relationship with its customers that will last a lifetime!
Unique, no holds barred and tapped into customers’ wildest food dreams, this bakery has customers lining up around the block and is a social phenomenon.
Artists don’t merely exist – they evolve. Well that’s what I think anyway. By walking to the beat of his own drum Rossillo has re-energised a subdued industry and become a revolutionary figure in the market. Just think what a little bit hard world, free thinking and help from your favourite communication provider – Hanicke Robins Sanderson could do for you.
So if your communication strategy isn’t getting the results you want, you don’t have clients lining up at your door, then contact us for a complimentary creative session!

We promise you’ll never look back!


Exhibitions: are they worth the bother?

Exhibition survey

Adrienne Robins


By Adrienne


Are you responsible for your company or organisation’s B2B exhibitions programme? If so, you’re just the person we’re looking for – because it’s you that holds the key to creating and delivering better event experiences.


When we set up Hanicke Robins Sanderson we knew, from experience, that many B2B exhibitions and events simply didn’t deliver. Not all of them. Don’t get us wrong – some are fantastic. But many leave exhibitors underwhelmed at best.


Anecdotal evidence is great – but we’re living in a big data age. So we set about tracking down the data to prove, once and for all, whether marketing budgets should viably set aside for exhbition space. And if so, what type of exhbition works best.

Exhibition budget

Unsurprisingly that data wasn’t easy to come by. So, we’re developing our own set of data – which, in the spirit of Hanicke Robins Sanderson, we’re happy to share. To create our first dataset we’ve issued a short overview survey.


And that’s where you, my perfect person, comes in. I’d like you to take a couple of minutes (analytics suggest it’ll take you less than 3 minutes to complete) out of your busy day to complete the survey.

Exhibition survey

You can do it anonymously – or you can leave us your details. We don’t mind. But if you do self-identify then we’ll give you some of our creative events thoughts for free as a thank you.


So go on, click here to take the survey and help us all to do exhibitions and events better. It’s a public service really!


Survey closes 5pm 29 February 2016. All respondents leaving details will receive the full survey results. A snapshot of results will be published here in mid March.


If you have any questions, please contact me:



Exhibition thank you

Sitting Down to Bleed

Kirsty Hanicke



By Kirsty


Sitting Down to Bleed


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”


Yes, that was the great Ernest Hemingway. From the first part of the quote, you get the impression that writing is easy. Then, you understand it’s actually the most difficult thing in the world. Of course, I am not sitting here at my laptop bleeding onto the keypad and I am not professing to be a ‘great blogger’.


There are of course a few technical requirements in blogging: decent grammar, good vocabulary, great idea, and awesome written expression. If you wrote great essays at college or university, then you’re one step closer to becoming a blogger people will appreciate. However, all these aspects don’t make a post amazing. It’s the idea, style, approach, and authority that matter.


Do you want to reach those levels? Of course you do! Some guidelines that I follow when writing:


Think of an irresistible first sentence.

You can’t expect to catch prey if you don’t have the right hook. The first sentence is really important because it convinces the visitor you’re offering something valuable for reading. The purpose of the catchy opening is to get the reader to the second line.


Keep the sentences short and clear.

You don’t want your reader to lose attention before they get to the end of a long sentence. It’s important to be as brief as possible.


Use analogies.

Writers are like psychologists. They dissect the human soul to discover the reasons, causes, and triggers of certain actions. That’s how they develop believable characters we can relate to.


Stay away from jargon.

Simple, precise words will capture the attention of all readers. Some of them may like jargon, but not everyone understands pretentious words a particular group uses.


Be creative and unique.

You can’t always have unique ideas. Sometimes you need to go with the flow and write a post on a trending topic, although it has already been covered by every single blogger in the niche. Nevertheless, you have to find a unique angle to approach the issue.


The universal techniques that apply to every blogger are: clarity, consistency, and uniqueness. When you achieve these qualities, you’ll discover what else your audience needs.


How to Forge Stronger Connections and Still Have Time for a Bath

Kirsty Hanicke

By Kirsty

“Don’t talk to strangers!”

That was the advice we all received as children and many of us will find ourselves saying those words to our own offspring. No one told us when to start talking to strangers again, 21? 30? 40? We have had to figure that one out on our own. As professionals and communicators we need to not only talk to strangers to build our network but we need to talk to the right strangers to build a robust, meaningful network.

You only need a small network. 25-50 people can get you what you need. There are essentially three levels of networking that really matter: a friend of a friend of a friend. That means that the friend of a friend of a friend of a friend (4 removed) won’t do much for you.  Further, if you want to build a meaningful professional or personal network, you need a warm introduction by someone. That fourth or fifth removed “friend” won’t get you places.

Other great advice that I have obtained over the years, and wholeheartedly try to put into practice is:

  • Your network is your critical asset; your network equals your net worth
  • Just be nice
  • Communicating is about listening more than talking – have to admit to having trouble with this one!!!
  • You can disagree without being disagreeable
  • Don’t ask, don’t get
  • Sometimes great ideas come when you’re not thinking about work
  • Kick fear to the curb
  • Work with people who have intellectual curiosity and a sense of humour – I am very lucky to be able to do so
  • Learn how to say NO – you will miraculously clear your calendar for more important things – this is so liberating but has taken me forever to implement
  • Rethink your assumptions – you know the old adage….
  • Work hard, work fun and take more baths.

That’s right: take more baths. Some of the best advice is the simplest.

Let’s get out of the bubble and get hands on

Kirsty HanickeBy Kirsty


Would you ask a room full of toddlers to read the top five food blogs for their perspectives on the Government’s guidelines for sugar intake as a way to sway them into eat their veggies? Of course not! But you might sit them down – with a yummy snack, of course – and read to them from the great Seuss tome of Green Eggs and Ham. Hey, if you do a good job, you might even convince a few picky tots to try a new food in the process.
As professional communicators, our job is essentially the same challenge – when we don’t know our audience, it is nearly impossible to be effective storytellers to them. We aren’t communicating at all when we aren’t in touch with how the audience is receiving our messages, or the contexts in which they’re being received. We all spend a lot of time heads-down (reading PR industry pubs, using research tools, and scanning headlines) but there is no substitute for first-hand experience seeing world through our audience’s eyes. How can you fine-tune your own consumer insights?
The answer is simple but often intimidating: Get out of your bubble and get hands-on.
With that in mind, here are my quick tips for getting up close and personal with your audience:

  • Get outside your own demographic by tapping into your empathy. Spend some time reading and watching the same media as your target audience in a non-judgmental way.
  • Check your bias at the door – you are likely approaching this assignment with some false assumptions. Perhaps you think you know what morning talk shows feature, but you haven’t watched one in years. Maybe you assume all consumers feel strongly about a topic, but you haven’t spent the time reading their comment threads in blogs. Maybe you’re getting all your info from one source and just need to dig deeper. Or perhaps, you just don’t relate to a given group so are biased in your overall approach.
  • Get past it and challenge yourself to go beyond the surface, get a full picture, and get yourself aligned in the process. Pay attention to how other brands are messaging – what else is competing for attention? What has the most value in this native context?
  • Ask questions, engage, but also quietly observe, take photos and notes. You’ll see inspiration everywhere and develop your spidey sense for what won’t fly for your audience. (Needless to say, leave your preferences aside for this assignment, too. See your audience’s environment through their eyes and not your own.) So roll your sleeves up and get ready to do some field work.

With a little extra effort, you can better understand your audience from the inside out.