How often are we given frightening statistics about our growing obesity problem in Wales, effecting our younger generation as well as older citizens? Awareness of the issue is at an all-time high and programmes are being put in place to help educate our fellow citizens as to the correct way to live our lives, but it appears that despite these efforts obesity rates are not falling quickly enough.

However, it seems now that America, the ‘supersized’ nation of the world is at last slimming down. According to research, the average American has shed 190 calories from their daily diet over the last 10 years, the first sustained drop for 40 years! How has this happened? It appears as though talking about the problem has been a major factor, hence this blog to encourage more debate and action on it.

We have heard talk of a government fat tax and Tesco removing some sugary drinks from their shelves, so action is taking place but too slowly. With the highest obesity rate of any West European country save Iceland and Malta, with 67% of males, 57% of females and more than 25% of children, we must take action in Wales now!

Can we not take some direction from the successful anti-smoking campaign? Let’s keep talking about it, let’s educate our children and adults with the simple message that you can have a super healthy life if you eat well and exercise. This is what our friends in America are doing with great success.

Simon Powell, Eysys

It was our last Breakfast Club of the season and we were joined by established Welsh entrepreneur, Simon Powell. Simon is currently the chairman and investor of four businesses in the travel and technology sectors, as well as the Managing Director of Powell Property Developments LTD, Founder of Travel.co.uk and CEO of Comtec Group. He has a wealth of experience, not only in setting up successful businesses, but also in turning around struggling businesses.

Simon began by stressing that, when setting up a business, it’s important to define what people want from it in terms of success. From something small and simple like running a successful corner shop to owning a fast car or becoming a billionaire, he believes that success is relative and what is most important is that people can define what it means to them and have a chance of achieving it.

He went on to list the things that he has done throughout his business career that most helped him to achieve his own success, in particular sharing equity. Simon recommended Finance Wales as an investor, but also advised potential entrepreneurs to share equity with their employees; “I think it is important to share equity, not just with financial institutions…but with the teams that are going to drive things.”

Simon also emphasised the importance of putting together a strong team to work together on the business, and making decisions quickly, fixing any wrong ones as soon as possible. He admitted that there are ‘no straight roads in business’ and that there will be bad days, but the important thing is to remain focused. He sees that his role in all of his businesses is to create opportunities, push through decisions, and make and maintain relationships.

Evidence of Simon’s theories being put into practice can be seen in his recent reacquisition of Comtec in October 2014. After a loss of £5m last year, the business is now projecting an Ebitda of £1.4m for this year.Breakfast Club

Simon is passionate about finding the next generation of talented young people to work in technology and highlighted the importance of working with schools to help inspire children to pursue a career within the tech industry. In particular, he talked about the huge potential within Wales and Welsh schools to produce skilled tech professionals, but emphasised the fact that not enough is being done to achieve this with current tech courses not tailored to business.

Simon concluded his talk by encouraging graduates who are thinking about setting up their own businesses to go for it, stating that there is lots of funding available and that “if you’re passionate and committed, you can do it”.

Dates and speakers for the autumn will be announced soon. For further information and booking details, please contact Danielle@petersenspr.com or phone 02920 549597.

Today we welcome Caroline Hodges, who has joined us for a three month placement. We asked Caroline to write a short blog to introduce herself…

Caroline HodgesLike a lot of young people I spent most of my time at university with no definitive idea of what I was going to do as a career after I finished. My initial dreams of a career in law were abandoned after spending my first year at university struggling to remember case lists, make sense of judicial decisions and generally not fall asleep from boredom and substituted for aspirations of working as a journalist. I transferred to a degree in Journalism Media and Cultural Studies and began to work on my writing and on building up my journalistic portfolio. It was during a work experience placement with a local newspaper that I first became properly aware of PR and its importance; whenever I was asked to write a piece I would be sent a press release and simply asked to reorganise it. I realised increasingly that the people who were writing the press releases were the ones creating the news, not the journalists.

This was confirmed for me when I took advertising and PR modules as part of my degree and began to look at the industry from an academic perspective – the changing face of media means that PR professionals and the work that they do is becoming increasingly important and exciting as it adapts to the digital and social media age. My strengths have always been in writing and communication and my favourite aspect of every part-time job I’ve had has been building relationships with customers. I decided that a career where I could build on those existing skills while helping to create content and to be a part of an exciting and developing industry would be the perfect fit for me so I began to pursue a career in PR. I feel extremely lucky to have been offered this placement with Petersens as the opportunity to gain experience and learn about the industry from an award-winning firm is something a lot of recent graduates would kill for and I know that it will be invaluable to me moving forward.

Everybody at Petersens is extremely friendly and welcoming and any nerves that I had disappeared within minutes of arriving. After attending a team meeting I was talked through the main clients and the kinds of work Petersens does for them, and given the chance to look through portfolios containing press releases. Learning about the clients that I will be working with and the kinds of work I will have the chance to get involved with was both interesting and very exciting. I can’t wait to get started and I’m very confident that I’m going to enjoy my time with Petersens.

Our latest work experience student, Luke Aldridge joined us to gain more experience of PR. Have a read of Luke’s blog to hear how he found his two weeks at Petersens…

LukeAs a recent History graduate of Swansea University, I left university full of optimism about what the future would hold for me but due to not doing a vocational course I did not have specific career path set out for me. I had vast possibilities of careers, but this meant it took some time to indentify a career which suited me. After exploring many potential career paths, I came across PR. I have always enjoyed writing and have always been a very social person, thriving on developing relationships and it is for this reason that I identified PR as good fit for me.

After this revelation, I went about gaining myself some relevant experience to beef up my CV and ultimately get a taste of what working in PR actually entailed. I went to London for work experience at a mid-sized PR agency with a reasonably broad portfolio of clients and I enjoyed every minute of it. The constant adapting of methods, variety of client demands, and the way PR was evolving appealed to me as I never wanted to be in a job where the same tasks are just repeated day in, day out. As I completed this work experience, the Chairman of the company suggested I get in touch with Rob from Petersens PR in order to gain more experience and the Petersens team were more than happy to have me.

When arriving at Petersens I was welcomed to a friendly atmosphere and immediately briefed on the various services Petersens offer their clients, and shown examples of their previous work. After a team meeting where various ideas where bounced back and forth, I was put to work on a variety of different tasks, from researching, to drafting a press release, to social media. These tasks showed me how broad an industry PR can be, and how the techniques and demands are evolving with new trends and technology being introduced all the time.

As I come to the end of my work experience, I am extremely grateful to Petersens for having me and giving me the opportunity to hone my skills and gain further understanding of what a career in PR is like. I am sure the experience I have gained will benefit me hugely in the future, and I fully recommend others who are looking into a career in PR to do work experience at Petersens.

queen's speechAs we all digest the elements of the UK government’s plan for the next 5 years as delivered by Her Majesty to Parliament, it appears to me that Wales has plenty to cheer about.

As mentioned in today’s Western Mail, the Institute of Directors (IOD) Director for Wales, Robert Lloyd Griffiths, makes a few key points about yesterday’s announcement. Firstly, in welcoming the reduction of red tape for SME’s in Wales who represent such a vitally important sector for future job growth in Wales – although we have yet to see where the Government will find £10 billion worth of cuts regulation!

Secondly, the absolute priority to negotiate the terms for the UK’s continuing membership of the EU – a membership which I believe is crucial for the continued growth of both Wales and the UK economy. Our biggest market is Europe and therefore we must remain part of it.

Thirdly, new powers for the Welsh Government were announced. This is to be welcomed, as the Welsh Government should become more accountable and of significantly more importance to the growth of Wales in the future than it is currently.

The list of changes and challenges laid out in the Queen’s Speech are significant but if addressed without delay, there is every chance that Wales and the rest of the UK will see further positive signs of growth, bringing more prosperity to our citizens, young and old over the years ahead.

family-bikingAs the latest figures show, more than a quarter of Welsh school leavers are overweight or obese, as reported in today’s Western Mail. However, it is most concerning to see that these figures when further broken down illustrate a disparity between affluent and deprived areas of Wales. For example, fewer than 9% of children in the Vale of Glamorgan were obese, while 17% of 4/5 year olds in Merthyr Tydfil were obese.

As mentioned in the comment section of the Western Mail today, unless these problems are faced by families, retailers, Health Authorities, local and central government, the situation will only get worse. Healthy eating, together with modest exercise can have a significant effect on individuals was well as the wider community in which we live.

A solution might be for all parties to be represented in a summit style meeting hosted by the Welsh Government to agree a strategy and timetable for action, otherwise the problem will get worse and the implication for future generations extremely worrying.

Gareth Davies addresses the Club

Gareth Davies addresses the Breakfast Club

We were lucky enough to have been joined by Gareth Davies, Chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) as the speaker for this month’s Breakfast Club. An ex British Lion and Captain of Wales, Gareth has an illustrious sporting background as well as a strong professional and business record, and has previously held the position of Chairman of the Sports Council for Wales and Commissioning Editor for Sports and Events at S4C.

Gareth began his presentation by explaining that one of his first priorities when becoming Chairman of the WRU was to develop ‘greater unity’ within the organisation. In order to achieve this, Gareth is committed to making the Union more open and transparent, and improving communication between all levels, from club to elite.

Gareth believes that as the elite level is very successful, the WRU needs to concentrate on creating a strong grassroots foundation in order to develop players for the future. One of the projects currently underway in this area is the School Club Hub Initiative. The WRU has been working with 43 schools across Wales to establish Rugby Development Officers in each school. The project, which is half funded by the WRU and half by the schools, has been hugely successful, with the number of schools involved set to double in September.

Copy of Cardiff Breakfast Club Gareth Davies Image 3 - compressedGareth also discussed some of the issues surrounding the Millennium Stadium as an asset of the WRU. Now 15 years old, the ongoing maintenance costs are extensive, with the current priority being the need for all the Stadium seats to be replaced over the next few years, an enterprise which will cost the Union £4/5 million. The WRU are also looking to expand the footprint of the Stadium, and Gareth is looking forward to the Stadium hosting 8 matches for the upcoming World Cup as a key opportunity for the Stadium to be exhibited to the world.

Gareth concluded his presentation by highlighting some of the changes to the WRU Board itself. The Union has recently appointed two new non-exec directors and for the first time ever, its first female board member. Gareth also explained that they are looking to bring in more outside expertise and have created a special advisory board of 5 individuals from worldwide businesses who can use their business knowledge to advise the WRU on particular projects.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on 18th June with guest speaker Simon Powell, CEO of Eysys. For further information and booking details, please contact susannah@petersenspr.com or phone 02920 549597.

Having been in the Marketing/PR sector for most of my working life, it has always been difficult to give clients a really effective way to measure the success of their Marketing/PR budget. However, with the advent of digital activity, the Marketing/PR spend and the Return on Investment (ROI) can be much more accurately measured.

social-media-logosKey Performance Indicators or KPI’s should be agreed at the start of any campaign e.g. such metrics as key messages to be covered, share of voice, prominence, positive sentiment etc. Some of the most useful tracking tools for evaluating effectiveness of a campaign are Google rankings, marketing qualified leads, social shares, and cost per lead. Now we can also see how customers/consumers are interacting with brands through digital analytics and social media listening, allowing advertisers to capture conversations and feedback which 10 years ago was not possible.

So with this greater sophistication in measurement and the ability to fine tune campaigns to reflect consumers comments and reactions to particular messages, businesses can really learn what their customers feel about them. This means that advertisers can now much more effectively target their budgets with clear relevant messages.

pretA perfect example of the effect of an advertiser listening to comments from social media, is sandwich chain Pret A Manger who is re-launching its Quinoa Rice Pot after customers took to Twitter demanding that vegetarian products be made suitable for vegans.

Just look at some of the other High Street brands who have embraced social media, such as Starbucks UK with 1.35 million likes on Facebook, and Costa with 1.25 million. If you are currently promoting your business without using social media, and the resulting ability to measure the effectiveness of your marketing spend, you are missing an important element of conducting business in 2015 and beyond.

If you need help in planning your PR or Social Media activity, please do not hesitate to call us.

Rob Petersen, MD

Dr Drew Nelson, IQE

Dr Drew Nelson, IQE

This month we were joined by Dr Drew Nelson, CEO and President of IQE. With operations spread across the UK, US, Taiwan and Singapore and annual revenues of over US$ 200 million, IQE is the largest global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafers.

Drew began his talk to the Club by explaining the importance of semiconductor wafers in today’s world. Used in everything from every-day objects such as smartphones, computers and lights, to drones, satellites and electric cars, compound semiconductors are a vital element of modern technology. IQE is a world leader in the design and manufacture of these compound semiconductors and currently holds a staggering ‘48% of the world’s market for semiconductor wafers’.

Drew explained that over the past 20 years, the UK’s status as a top technology manufacturer has greatly reduced, with Asian-based companies now taking the lead. Drew believes that there is a strong need to bring back high technology manufacturing to the UK and he highlighted the negative impact that losing manufacturing, and research and development has on UK exports.

Breakfast ClubFollowing this, Drew discussed the vision to create a global high technology cluster of semiconductors in Wales. Drew believes that creating this would have a huge impact on the economy. ‘Every job in high technology creates a further four jobs’ and Drew estimates that the development of this technology cluster could create up to 5000 jobs. Plans for creating this semiconductor cluster are already underway and Drew is currently working in partnership with 18 leading technology firms, with backing from Cardiff University and support of the Welsh Government.

Creating this high technology cluster may be an ambitious project, but it is one which Drew believes to be a ‘once in a generation opportunity’.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on 15th May with guest speaker Gareth Davies, Chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union. For further information and booking details, please contact susannah@petersenspr.com or phone 02920 549597.

fireAs Carolyn Hitt outlined in her excellent article in the Western Mail on Saturday, it is frankly despairing to read of, and see, the blackened hillsides of our beautiful mountain. Deliberately started it appears by youngsters, these fires are destroying a landscape and causing huge disruption and cost to the Valleys communities.

Not only are these arsonists risking their lives in starting these fires, they could well affect others and lives could be lost if these annual events cannot be stopped.

Carolyn makes an important point however, in her discussion with youth workers in that for many young people, the Valleys are seen as a pretty prison! A report in 2011 underlined the reasons that youngsters might start these fires; i.e. boredom, acts of rebellion, mental health issues and lack of prospects. Perhaps therefore, the underlying reason could be a genuine cry for help from a disaffected and ignored section of our population who really should be helped to create a love and respect for their countryside and community. A tall order, but one which really should be on the political agenda for action.

Rob Petersen, MD