Welcome to STANDbites - our views on the world of communications, and news from our small (but perfectly formed) agency. Now grab a drink (maybe a mulled wine?) and enjoy the read...
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Winding down for Christmas...or not!
I heard a PR industry colleague say at an event the other day, “When did December stop being the month of long lunches and Christmas drinks?”  This got me thinking: when was it ever..?!
Having a history of clients keen to get work off their desks and onto yours over Christmas means I have pretty much crawled to the festive break for as long as I can remember.  This year is no exception. In fact, I think it is worse (or better depending on how you look at it!) 
As the economic confidence of the country increases, so have clients’ appetites to invest in comms.  And the good news is that good comms can really build clients' confidence, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
At Stand Towers we have never had a busier month in our short history.  Clients and prospects have started making decisions on future plans, budgets have increased and new briefs have popped out of nowhere.  I don’t want to sound too self-assured, but it does feel like our hard work and graft is starting to pay off.
So as we look back on 2013 and look forward to next year, we are in a confident mood, and I am wondering how far that confidence can reach… Could England win the World Cup?  Doubtful, but then at the start of 2013 did we think we’d have a Wimbledon Champion..? 
As a final thought, we’re keen to leave you in a Christmas mood, so if you haven’t cracked open the mince pies and sherry just yet, watch this instead.  It is a great bit of #PR which shows that the element of surprise and the gift of giving really can make people very happy.  Merry Christmas and here’s to a STamazing 2014!
By Laura Oliphant
Festive Jogging – Santa Run 2013
Last month we announced that some of the team would be undertaking a 5km run - dressed as Santa Claus no less - for our client Contact the Elderly. The charity organises monthly tea parties for people over 75 who live with little or no social support.  Nikki and Rebecca had a great time running and are looking forward to next year! We wanted to share photographic proof that they looked great in their outfits too. Enjoy!

By Molly Stein Davies

Changing Faces petition

If you want to do one worthwhile deed this Christmas, how about supporting our friends at Changing Faces in their 'Don't call me #freakface' campaign?

Changing Faces supports and represents people with facial disfigurements. They've launched a campaign to ask the creators of Moshi Monsters to stop using names like 'Freakface' in their range of children's characters.

So far the response from Moshi Monsters hasn't been encouraging. Their CEO said on Twitter: 'We are not changing character names within our imaginary world, nor would Dahl, Disney, Dr Seuss or Dickens.'

It's a shame Moshi Monsters doesn't think it needs to listen to a charity that supports thousands of children with facial disfigurements... many of whom are bullied and called names like freakface.

If you want to change that sign the petition here and get involved in the #freakface campaign on social media.

By Rebecca McLeod
Stand Agency Big Day Out
To celebrate Christmas in style, last Thursday we flew to Amsterdam to try Bitterballen, beer and boating along the canals. On a perfect winter’s day we wandered along the cobbled streets, lingered beside the Christmas market stalls and sipped on mulled wine. Cruising through the narrow canals we celebrated what has been a very busy and productive year, finishing off the day with a well-earned glass of prosecco or two. We wanted to share the day’s atmosphere with you, so here’s our 'selfie' to mark the occasion. 
By Georgina Miller

PR Census 2013

This week the PRCA launched the 2013 version of its census, revealing that the industry has grown by over £2bn in two years and is now worth £9.2bn - good news all round. Although the landscape is dominated by smaller agencies, they found that those smaller companies are punching above their weight as the sector grows. That is certainly our intention here at Stand!

However, it was clear that some areas need working on. The industry is dominated by women (63% of PRs are women) but the senior roles are mainly filled by men - there are over twice as many men as women in senior positions. Also, even though the industry is growing, belts have become tighter and salaries are feeling the hit - on average PR execs are likely to be earning £500 less per year than two years ago. 

If the industry has developed this much in just two years, we look forward to seeing what the next census says!

By Georgina Miller
Stand Out Activity

When one of your clients is a challenger brand, you need to seize every opportunity to make them stand out in an industry dominated by big players. So when the Bank of England released its quarterly figures for the Funding for Lending scheme at the beginning of December, we wanted to make sure our client, Shawbrook Bank, was top of the list of spokespeople for the media to use. Our secret weapons? Forward planning and a large dose of tenacity. We found an interesting angle to the story that allowed Shawbrook to give a different perspective on the figures, and warmed up our key media contacts the week before the results were due. When the figures were released, we received calls from the BBC News Channel and BBC Radio 5 wanting to interview Shawbrook’s CEO Ian Henderson. We also secured a brilliant opportunity for Ian to appear on CNBC a few days later to give his perspective on the Autumn statement, and some great print coverage in the Daily Express and The Guardian. When it comes to PR: creativity + determination = results. 

By Francesca Rivett-Carnac

Challenger Brand of the Month: PayPal

PayPal is my challenger brand of the month.
Now, bear with me here – PayPal is not usually described as a challenger, I know, but there is method in my madness.
PayPal has recently announced that it will be providing a way for small businesses and market stallholders to accept immediate non-cash payments. The function will be charged at a far lower rate than credit card companies charge for machines, thus supporting the growth of small businesses.
At Stand Agency we believe in supporting small businesses and especially challengers – very few brands start off as big companies able to afford high surcharges so this step from PayPal is welcome.
Good on you Paypal, thanks for supporting the challengers!

By Nikki Peters

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