Simon Francis

Simon loves a communications challenge and is passionate about using communications to make the world a better place. A strategist and PR industry opinion-leader, he also has extensive experience of leading award-winning multi-disciplinary campaigns like National Apprenticeship Week and Grey Pride.

A supporter of the underdog, Simon refuses to waver in his support of Coventry City.

Simon's Blog Posts

Where do advertisers get their ideas from?

You're an advertising agency creative. You work at a massive global firm (say, Leo Burnett). You might be tired. You may even be a bit bored of one of your clients (say, Ronald McDonald House Charities). You need something concrete to show at an all important meeting. And quick. So you call in a small…

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You can’t take politics out of charity communications

The PRCA’s charity group recently debated the pros and cons of a ‘political’ approach to charity communications. But in the charity world, there can be no such thing as an apolitical campaign. While the stated objectives of charity communications may be seemingly non-political (such as fundraising, reputation-building, public awareness raising or driving action) for each…

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The power of language in PR

Today's PR Week report that we've been appointed by the National Careers Service to work on their summer PR campaign is huge news for us and another chance to use PR to help people change their lives for the better. Millions of people, of all ages and backgrounds, desperately need the tools and advice the…

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We're hiring... a PR apprentice (or maybe two)

When Claremont became one of the first PR agencies in the country to sign up to offer Apprenticeships in PR we joined some of the country’s biggest PR agencies, other smaller PR shops and in-house teams in agreeing to hire a government funded higher, degree-level, apprentice. Almost a year on and our apprentice, Monica, has…

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Finding tomorrow's engineers

Siemen's engineering apprentices help build the next generation of wind turbines

[caption id="attachment_3013" align="alignright" width="213"] Siemen's engineering apprentices help build the next generation of wind turbines. Picture: National Apprenticeship Service[/caption] Engineering is big business. And it's vital to the future of our nation's economy. And according to EngineeringUK, engineering companies will have 2.74 million job openings between 2010 and 2020 so it should be a major…

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Double delight: PRCA Awards Shortlist Announced

No matter what anyone claims, everyone likes to win. And in the PR world, the PRCA Awards are an annual highlight in the calendar. So we were delighted to learn that our National Apprenticeship Week 2013 campaign has been short-listed for two Awards (we worked alongside the National Apprenticeship Service in-house team, BIS press office, Tribe…

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Introducing our new PR apprentices

Sean Moody & Matt Seel

We’re proud to practice what we preach at Claremont, so welcoming this year’s PR Higher Apprentices intake is a big deal for us. Following on from news that our National Apprenticeship Week PR work has been shortlisted for two PRCA Awards, our apprentices join us to continue this good work – and also help drive…

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Star-shaped mince pies, Christmas tree crumpets and some very sore legs - how Claremont does Christmas

[caption id="attachment_3155" align="alignright" width="320"] Claremont Christmas Party[/caption] This year Claremont is trying to use our festive celebrations to practice what we preach! We started off with our 'made by apprentices' Christmas Party for clients where Matt, Monica and Sean were given a brief and (tight) budget and turned our offices into festive wonderland, complete with…

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How do you define right and wrong in PR?

How do you define right and wrong in PR?

Yesterday morning's papers showed two different sides of PR. While the boss of Bell Pottinger represents dictators claimed his firm are decent people in the Guardian, Save the Children are alleged to be supressing news stories to curry favour with corporate donors in the Independent. So how do you define right and wrong in PR?…

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It's time to live Evermore

For too long anyone approaching older age has been defined by age or illness stage in an institutionalised care sector putting the needs of its operating models first. But, as anyone with relatives in their 80s knows, this group are fiercely independent and want to continue to live life to the fullest. And PR &…

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Five tips on preparing your charity for the 2015 General Election

The 2015 General Election will be a key opportunity for charities to further their aims and objectives and gain more supporters. However, new research released by Claremont shows that many organisations have yet to start planning for the election. With less than 18 months to go until the election on 7th May 2015, the research…

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Why do PR? For results...

In an industry that sometimes struggles to prove its effectiveness, one Claremont campaign helps answer the age old question 'why do PR'. Last weekend the government announced that as a result of Tomorrow's Engineers Week, the number of young people interested in a career in engineering has seen a sharp rise - by 6 percentage…

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Is this the most effective PR campaign in Europe?

There are some PR awards anyone would be delighted about being nominated for, but do they prove you have one of the most effective PR campaigns in Europe? Claremont's work for National Apprenticeship Week 2013 (working with the Skills Funding Agency in house team and our partners at Tribe PR, On Broadcast and Shackleton PR) has just been…

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All campaigners will need to learn lessons from the CBI's Scottish crisis

The CBI's epic PR fail on Scottish independence has grabbed the headlines. But the real news will be in the outcome of the Electoral Commission's decision on whether the CBI was right to register as a campaigner in the referendum. This decision will have far-reaching consequences for all campaign organisations. On the surface, the Scottish…

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Help us celebrate our SABRE Award nomination

Our campaign for National Apprenticeship Week 2013 continues to gain industry recognition and on the 20th May we find out if the campaign has a won the SABRE Award for the most effective communications campaign across Europe, Middle East and Africa. We're incredibly proud of being shortlisted for the award and it will also launch a new…

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The five most important tweets on the #EU2014 vote

Seismic earthquakes. Political turmoil. Revolutionary. There's been much written about the European elections, but the five tweets below provide clear lessons the UK political parties - and anyone with a passion for democracy - must learn: 1) Things are not what they seem Another Angry Voice has an important overview of the 12 things the European…

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Five tips on hiring PR apprentices

PR Apprenticeships have been helping agencies and in-house teams grow their own talent for over two years now. And Matt and I recently spoke to the PRCA's DARE conference about what a PR Apprenticeship actually involves - from employer and apprentice perspectives. You can view the presentation we gave below, but there are five key things we have learned…

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Will the Lobbying Act impact on your campaign?

Keep calm and keep campaigning That was the message from the PRCA's Not for Profit and Charity Group  discussion last Thursday on the impact of the Lobbying Act on campaigns in the run up to the General Election next year. But, as Lily Capriani from Children's Society pointed out, continuing to run campaigns does not…

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Tomorrow's Engineers Week returns

EngineeringUK has asked Claremont to encourage more young people to pursue careers in engineering for a second year running. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek14) takes place from 3-7 November 2014 and aims to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers. The announcement comes after a BIS-commissioned survey found that the number of 11 to 14 year…

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The impact of the Lobbying Act on PR is still not clear

With just weeks to go until regulations for non-party campaigners during the 2015 General Election come into force, there are still fundamental questions that remain unanswered about the impact of the Lobbying Act on PRs. In fact, the PRCA Not-For-Profit and Charity Group has written to the Electoral Commission with ten key questions they must…

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Five tips to ensure you don't fall foul of the Lobbying Act

It is not just the PR industry which has been asking difficult questions about the impact of regulations for non-party campaigners during the 2015 General Election. And unless any last ditch attempts to delay the introduction of the Lobbying Act are successful, there is less than a month to go until the law comes into force. So, here are five tips to ensure…

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The numbers just don't add up

Over four years ago, the global PR industry united to declare the death of AVEs - advertising value equivalents of PR coverage. But recently, they've been creeping back in (I now even get a coverage alert from a well-known cuttings service telling me the daily 'value' of coverage). The industry needs to, once again, ensure…

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Helping young people to Plotr a better future

As reported in PR Week and Gorkana, we're delighted to be working with Plotr to help boost its profile among teachers – and drive up user numbers. Plotr offers brands and organisations the chance to give young people an insight into the workplace and the site is being re-launched to focus on a unique, free, psychometric…

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19th September 2014: The end of press conferences?

Press conferences have had a good run. From calming public nerves in a crisis (or not if you are Malaysian Airlines) to launching campaigns and announcing mundane company results, press conferences have been at the heart of the PR's repartee for decades. But while the media's attention is focused on Scotland, the Lobbying Act came…

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Tomorrow's Engineers Week shortlisted for PRCA & Social Buzz Awards

Hot on the heels of being shortlisted for the PR Week specialist PR agency of the year and public sector campaign of the year, our work for Tomorrow's Engineers Week has also been shortlisted for the PRCA Awards and The Drum's Social Buzz Awards. The campaign, which we recently were asked to work on again in 2014,…

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Are you ready to go viral?

Bosses, board members and clients who don't work in communications have come up with many ways of asking if a campaign will go viral. But as I write in PR Week, this is fundamentally the wrong question. Instead, organisations need to ask the question "are we ready to go viral?" Cancer Research UK may have…

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Three predictions for charity campaigns in 2015

With the political parties kick-starting the longest General Election campaign in history this week, politics will clearly have a major impact on charity campaigns in 2015. But as PR Week reveals, it's not the only issue campaigners and charity PRs will face in (early) 2015: 1. The Lobbying Act will continue to confuse charities and campaigners. Part 2 of the…

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Trust in charities collapses; but ethics are key to rebuilding faith

The must-read annual Edelman Trust Barometer (see below for the full report) has just been published and its message is clear: If you want to build trust be social and be ethical. The Barometer finds that, globally, trust in charities, NGOs, business and media has declined across the board and the UK is ranked as…

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Let's make 2015 the year of trust and ethics in PR

If the Edelman Trust Barometer wasn't enough of a wake up call to the marketing industry that organisations need to focus on building trust, new research from PulseCheck should provide a further reason to kick start a debate about organisations' communications priorities. Last week, the Barometer revealed that, globally, trust in charities, NGOs, business and media has declined across the board…

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Impressions or conversations: which will win #GE2015 social media battle?

The battle lines for the General Election are drawn. And for marketers, it's not blue versus red (or even purple vs orange vs green), but impressions versus conversations. In the impressions corner are the Conservatives. They are spending a staggering £100,000 on Facebook ads alone. And their impression driving "road to recovery" poster may have been…

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Help create a new PR degree apprenticeship

The PR industry is set to make history by creating a new master's-level degree apprenticeship in public relations. Industry body, the PRCA has applied to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to develop the new qualification in partnership with universities. Announced by the Prime Minister, the new PR degree apprenticeships are possible following reforms…

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Backing campaign skills

  We're proud to be supporting the E-Campaigning Forum in Oxford this week - three days of training, sharing best practice and professional development for charity campaigners from across Europe. Starting on Wednesday, #ECF15 will provide 150 charity campaigners the campaign skills and knowledge to be more effective in delivering social change through communications. It will…

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A new era for public sector communications?

Five years ago there was a feeling of doom and gloom around public sector communications. Cuts to marketing budgets and the closing of the Central Office of Information saw many in the PR world to shy away from delivering behaviour change and social communications for the public good. But while the cuts were deep, it has…

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Who are the undecided voters in the general election?

Political polling has taken on an even greater significance in 2015 with the general election being so unpredictable and the media desperate to try and call the final result. And despite this unpredictability, the polls published in the papers always seem to be so confident. Yet, there is always one striking omission from the numbers:…

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The Lobbying Act: Everything is not OK

With the General Election over, the public debate about the Lobbying Act has subsided and the restrictions it placed on campaigners have been temporarily lifted. But the Act sent charities reeling during the campaign, the pernicious impact of its stifling threat to freedom of speech is still being felt and confusion caused by poor Electoral Commission…

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Five ways the Lobbying Act could be improved

The negative impact of the Lobbying Act is clear. It has had a damaging effect on campaigners and is a threat to freedom of speech. But it is here to stay. That's why the PRCA Charity and Not-For-Profit Group has developed five recommendations for the Hodgson Review of Third Party Campaigning to consider: 1. Reduce…

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What makes a good PR?

Public relations - a key part of Claremont's social communications philosophy - is a wide ranging profession requiring a multitude of skills. With new degree apprenticeships in PR being put out to consultation this month, now is the perfect time for the industry to think about what makes a good PR. Practice makes perfect One thing…

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What makes a good PR? Part two...

After our starter for three on what makes a good PR and with the PRCA calling for more comments on the new PR degree apprenticeship, here's what some more of the Claremont Social Communications team think makes a good PR... http://youtu.be/FafvYWV6CI8

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Seeing the wood from the trees

38 Degrees scored one of its first campaign successes by opposing the last government's plans to sell off Britain's forests. It was a simple and brutally effective campaign, but it only scratched the surface of the issues around the country's forests and ensuring they are protected for future generations. The reality is far more complex than…

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