February 19, 2016


In these heady days of digital and social media, it is still refreshing that traditional media routes of PR engagement are considered to be proof of success.By that, I mean that ‘Getting Ink‘ as American PR folk lovingly call it – seeing client stories in print – regardless if its national media, local media, or trade media – continues to have much validity among today’s digital landscape.

I liken it a bit to playing an LP. Purists love the crackle and whir of the needle on vinyl and even when there is an audible scratch on the record, it was regarded as part of the event. Audiophiles will tell you that you simply cannot get the same impact with the sanitised purity of a digital download.

Traditionalists, whilst they respect the new era, they do so with more than half an eye on the tried and tested.

I have tech clients that want the PR drive to go global onTechcrunch, Wired, Engadget and Gizmodo, as much as they like to see coverage in the business media, but I remain a big fan of the newspaper column inch.

Only this week, we had a spread of client coverage any PR company in the world would be delighted to have secured.

This is a story about a young student entrepreneur, Rebecca Pick, from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow with a great product and a BIG future. She has invented a personal attack alarm through her business, Pick Protection.

Rebecca is one of thirty academic entrepreneurs taking part in this year’s Converge Challenge, firmly on the map as one of the most popular academic business competitions in the UK.

The links to the coverage we secured are listed at the bottom of this blog.

We secured a full page editorial in The Guardian and followed that up with a welter of coverage in the Daily Telegraph,The Daily Mirror, The Daily Record, Cosmopolitan ( yep – first time for us!), Glamour (ditto), The Metro and International Business Times – among others and it’s truly great to review this coverage by physically holding  the newspaper or magazine and seeing the story in print, surrounded by all the other news of the day.

Presenting a client with an online digital link is, in my view, great for its instant ‘attention grab’, but getting the scissors out to cut the coverage, does have a far more rewarding ‘edge’ to it.

Here’s the coverage:


We certainly thought so….

One of the most fiercely competitive aspects of the ‘fast food’ market is marketing the humble Pizza.

Hundreds of independents – stand-alone Italian Pizza Restaurants, general take-a-ways and fish and chip shops – vie with the dominant market leaders such as Papa Johns, Dominoes and Pizza Hut to get a ‘slice’ of the action.

So when Acumen was approached to manage a comprehensive PR campaign for the launch of an invigoratingly fresh approach to the Pizza market, we were delighted to help – and take up the challenge of breaking the habit of how Pizza is marketed in the UK

The Product

Project Pie is an ambitious ‘fast casual’ pizza concept which launched in San Diego in 2013 and planned to open its first UK store in Dundee, Scotland in 2015. One of 60 outlets the company hope to roll out across the UK over the next 10 years.

The concept was created and developed by James Markham, a serial entrepreneur and pioneer of the ‘fast casual pizza movement’ which has taken America by storm.

It was brought to Europe by US Realtor entrepreneurs Susan and John Canavan in partnership with renowned UK Restaurant Industry man, Niall Howard, who built The Michelin-starred Hakkasan Group, into one of the world’s most distinguished global restaurant, lounge and nightlife brands.

Project Pie’s is famous in its homeland for its “Design – Build – Eat” theme of “Artisan Pizza Custom Built by You”. Customers can choose from a range of 28 toppings – including a range of cheeses, meats, vegetables and herbs and spices.

The key to this ‘fast pizza’ concept lay in the stone hearth oven. Up to 20 Pizzas – each 12 inches in diameter – can be simultaneously baked in the Woodstone stone-hearth oven at 680 degrees Fahrenheit in under three minutes. That temperature was key! No other pizza over cooks at such a high temperature. Traditional Pizza ovens take much longer – up to 15-20 minutes.

The PR Programme

Acumen prepared a multi-faceted PR programme for Project Pie. We brought in other ‘marketing elements’ to provide a complete holistic approach to the PR programme.

We arranged a series of one-to-one local and national interviews with Niall Howard across the print and digital media the pressing question put to him by journalists was always ‘Why Dundee and not Edinburgh or Glasgow’?

Niall had identified Dundee as the ‘launch pad’ for Project Pie in Europe because of the density of its centrally located student population as well as it being a compact and bustling city centre with a consistently high footfall in the area chosen for the development the ever popular Reform Street.

Acumen followed this up with an extensive trade media blitz across the national and international trade media print and digital titles and engaged with some very high profile food bloggers. Simultaneously, our social media manager, Chris Kennedy, executed a brilliant ‘taster’ campaign with a series of cryptic messages and incentives across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The launch day itself – Valentine’s Day – was a truly humbling experience. The PR plan had worked perfectly. Queues had formed from early morning around the corner from the front door and when the doors opened at 10am – the good people of Dundee were the first to witness – and taste quite a remarkable revolution in the crowded Pizza Restaurant market.

The media truly had a field day!