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DTW signs up to support Tees Valley Careers scheme

DTW has signed up to a new scheme all about giving young people from across the Tees Valley a taste of working life to help them become ‘work-ready’ as they set out on their career journey.

Chris Taylor, Managing Director of DTW, said: “We’re always happy to help young people step onto the career ladder and the Tees Valley Careers approach is great. It’s genuinely one of the best and most employer friendly initiatives I have seen.”

The appeal of the Tees Valley Careers scheme is that it isn’t just about offering work experience. For a small business like ours that can be a challenge due to client commitments and logistical challenges, particularly for school age children.

The scheme gives employers options like going into schools and chat to students, take part in mock interview exercises and careers days. We think these can be hugely valuable to young people in our area. The opportunities are all co-ordinated by the Tees Valley Careers team which minimises the ‘hassle factor’. It means employers like DTW can get involved when there are opportunities that fit in with our industry and which work for us.

For young people looking to take their first step into the world of work, anything they can do to engage with employers and gain a better understanding of work situations will really help them in their early careers.

Chris added: “We’re passionate about helping young people as they start out in their career. This is a great initiative that is local to us and something we’re very much looking forward to being involved with.”

You can visit the Tees Valley Careers website to find out more about getting involved.

The Tees Valley Careers scheme is being delivered by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

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Joe gives his view on work experience at DTW

Last week we played host to a third-year journalism student – Joe – from Teesside University – on work experience. We think it is important to give young people opportunities and experience in the world of work and in the PR and communications industry in particular. And it also keeps us on our toes having bright young things coming in and asking lots of awkward questions. Good luck with the future Joe!

Read on to see Joe’s views on his week at DTW Towers.

Hi – my name is Joe – I am a third year Teesside University student studying Journalism.

I’m in the final stages of my degree and I wanted to learn more about public relations, how it works, how companies operate etc.

I was given this opportunity by DTW for a week of work experience to gain an insight into the world of PR. I learned a huge amount over the week as I spent the week learning how to write press releases, work shadowing, sitting in on meetings and learning about problem solving, strategies and the bigger picture of PR.

Everyone who worked there was extremely friendly and welcoming which made settling in quickly much easier and meant it wasn’t difficult to ask anyone questions when I didn’t fully understand something.

I spent the week sat with Chris, Managing Director and Karen, Senior Strategist. Again, this could have been daunting, but their friendly nature was relaxing. I learnt a lot and the experience was hugely enjoyable, it has confirmed that PR is certainly an option as a future career for me.

Thanks everyone!

Joe Robertson

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Merry Christmas from everyone at DTW

We’ve made a little Christmas animation just for you – you just know you need to brighten up your day by watching it.

We have really enjoyed working with you in 2018 and look forward to catching up with you again in 2019.

Thank you for helping us do what we love – it is through our work with amazing clients and partners like you that DTW has been able to win seven industry Gold awards this year – we couldn’t have done it without you so it’s a huge thank you from us.

Have a fantastic Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

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Mersey Gateway – an ideal Christmas stocking filler

Think you can’t fit a 10 kilometre infrastructure project in your Christmas stocking? Think again!!

For anyone who loves amazing infrastructure and engineering combined with beautifully well written and designed books the new The Mersey Gateway Project – A bridge to prosperity is a must.

Featuring some amazing not seen before images of the iconic new bridge over the River Mersey in Halton, it tells the story of the three-and-a-half year construction and the 20-year battle to get funding and planning permission.

We may be slightly biased as Paula and Sarah in our design team have done all the designs and artwork and we’ve had a hand in copy editing but we think this is an amazing book about a wonderful project.

Full marks to Laura and Michelle at the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board and Halton Borough Council for getting the story out of their heads and on paper.

The Mersey Gateway Project – A bridge to prosperity is available now for just £9.99 and you can pre-order your copy on Waterstones website.

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Triple award success for DTW at 2018 CIPR PRide awards

What a night! The DTW team was delighted to come away with three Gold awards from the CIPR North East Pride awards on Friday night (7 December).

Hannah Cheetham (right) picked up the hugely well deserved Outstanding Young Communicator award. We also won two big awards for our work with Sunderland City Council on its new Northern Spire bridge.

All in all, an amazing evening put on again by the CIPR at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle.

To win Regional Campaign of the Year and Public Sector Campaign for the Northern Spire work is a real recognition of the blood, sweat and tears that Karen and others have put in on this project over the past three-and-a-half years. We’re very pleased.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ annual PRide awards recognise the best public relations work done by agencies, freelancers and in-house teams across the UK.

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TUXtra – helping to build a bridge between students and the communications professions

What better way to spend a cold, dreary Wednesday night in December than with a glass of fizz and the people behind Teesside University’s exciting new media brand TUXtra?

Chris and Hannah (that’s me) did just that when we were invited along to TUXtra’s launch night to find out more.

So, before I tell you what we thought, let’s talk about what TUXtra actually is. A multimedia platform showcasing content produced by students and volunteers from Teesside University is what it says on the tin.

In other words, a news outlet, radio station and TV platform aiming to demonstrate the best work produced by the journalism, PR, film and TV and other students at Teesside University’s School of Computing, Media and Arts.

Now, providing students with a platform to showcase their work is great, but what makes TUXtra different from any other student newspaper or radio show? To start with they have some seriously impressive facilities which wouldn’t look out of place in industry, we were given a tour and there’s been a definite upgrade since I was a Teesside University student myself.

What’s really valuable though is giving students real-time ownership and responsibility over the whole operation, from a team producing the content, to editors with responsibility for sub-editing and selecting what appears online on a daily basis. It’s a winning combination to produce graduates who have more than just classroom experience.

As a business we enjoy excellent links with the University and it’s great to see them really investing in their students and offering a platform to develop experience and industry links which are so vital when standing out from the crowd after graduation.

Having a degree is a great starting point, but we can’t ignore the fact that businesses look for graduates with industry experience who can jump straight in and start benefitting the business from day one.

TUXtra isn’t a replacement for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty on a work experience placement, but it does provide a consistent, easily accessible way for students to gain that all important industry experience and boost their employability.

Our verdict? It’s still early days (TUXtra was created over the summer) but we’ll be keeping a close eye on how things develop and we’re excited to see what the future has in store.

The potential is there for this to be a hugely valuable resource for the University, its students, and their future employers. Kudos to Teesside Uni and its students for delivering.

Thanks for reading


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DTW helps secure Project of the Year award for Northern Spire

Teamwork and collaboration are always at the heart of excellent communications. That’s why it was great to be alongside some talented partners to win a major award for one of our biggest client projects this week.

Sunderland’s Northern Spire bridge was named Project of the Year: Engineering, Construction and Infrastructure 2018, at the Association for Project Management (APM) awards in London on Monday (26thNovember).

We collectively beat off some stiff competition to win the award that recognises great project management. Northern Spire was up against a number of outstanding engineering and infrastructure projects from across the UK, including the Royal Navy’s new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, medical research centre The Francis Crick Institute, Master Gas System Expansion Phase-1, by Saudi Aramco, and The Temperate House Project.

Karen and Chris from the DTW team have been working on site for the best part of three years, working alongside Atkins, Faithful+Gould, and AECOM, the Sunderland City Council team and main contractors Farrans and Victor Buyck, as well as numerous sub-contractors.

That has put communications and PR at the heart of the project and meant we have collectively been on the front foot when it comes to communication benefits and engaging with stakeholders.

Work began on Northern Spire in May 2015. During the three-year build programme, more than 2,000 people worked on the project, clocking up more than a million work-hours. It was built within its allocated £117m budget, two thirds of which was met by the Government and the remaining from Sunderland City Council.

During recent months, different aspects of the Northern Spire project have been recognised at award ceremonies up and down the country, from the design of the structure, to the methods used to construct it, project management and public engagement.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Communications and PR has a part to play both internally and externally on big projects like this and we’re very fortunate that we get to work with some of the best in the business on this and other projects.

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DTW joins Northern Spire team to share tips on ensuring project success

The link between communications and PR and good project management is something we’re passionate about, so put us in a conference full of project managers and our ‘inner nerd’ starts to really show.

This week DTW joined the Northern Spire team at the Association of Project Managers’ Power of the Profession conference in Manchester.

Around 200 of the north’s leading project managers, from a diverse range of companies and sectors, including representatives from Shell, Northumbrian Water, the NHS and Transport for the North, gathered to share their best practice ideas on getting the most out of your people and processes in order to maximise production and success, and achieve greater outcomes for the community by managing projects more effectively and efficiently.

Key to the discussion was the importance of focusing on and communicating stakeholder and community benefits in project management, and the vital role stakeholder communication plays in ensuring the success of a project.

Members of the Northern Spire team from Farrans Construction, Faithful+Gould, Atkins and DTW exhibited, and presented to delegates on the importance of placing and communicating benefits at the heart of your project.

Here’s four DTW top tips for using communications to make your project a success:

  • Start with research and by listening to your stakeholders – communication is a two way street – make sure you listen to the concerns of your community – whether that is employees, customers, residents or retailers. Put yourself in their shoes, think about what their concerns are and make sure you address them.
  • Focus on benefits and tell your story – once you know where you are starting from because you’ve done your research and have clear objectives, take people on a journey and make sure your story focuses on the project benefits and outcomes at every stage.
  • Engage directly with people – be open, honest and transparent with your audience – even when you have bad news to tell them – and you’ll get the credit in the long run. It takes time, guts and sometimes broad shoulders, but remember that feedback is what you want – it will help you improve your project and deliver better outcomes.
  • Be a good neighbour – remember you are just passing through – projects are inevitably temporary, even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes! You’re just dropping in as a temporary member of a real permanent community of residents, businesses or employees, and the project is for them, so putting their interests first is what it’s all about.

The communications budget on Northern Spire accounted for only 0.5% of the total project budget, yet the buy-in to community engagement, public and media relations from everyone, from Sunderland City Council, main contractor FVB Joint Venture, Atkins, Faithful+Gould, and sub-contractors on site, meant that communications ran through every fibre of the project.

Getting all of the project team on board took time and involved huge amounts of leg work at the beginning, however, the results far outweighed the budget and the effort, evidenced in the huge community pride demonstrated when the bridge was unveiled in August, and the 20,000 people who came to walk across the deck before it opened to traffic.

With communications, a little really does go a long way, and taking the time to involve people can make the difference between perceived success and failure.

Six months after a project is finished, very few people will remember whether it was delivered on time or on budget, but they will know whether or not they like it.

So, don’t leave that to chance. Take the community on the journey with you and then you will all arrive at the desired destination together.

Thanks for reading.


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DTW fastest riser in Prolific North Top 50 PR agencies

Let’s just start by saying that you always have to take any industry rankings with a pinch of salt, but this is one of the meaningful ones.

We’re very pleased that DTW has been ranked by Prolific North as #15 – and as the fastest riser – in Prolific North’s latest annual list of the Top 50 PR agencies across the north of England.

In a list dominated by Manchester agencies we’re classed as the largest in the north east, but more importantly than that, it shows the results of the really great creativity and hard work put in by the DTW team over the past year. Our focus is always on delivering results for our clients in our key sectors of infrastructure, government and membership organisations – so we’re really pleased.

As ever it’s a huge thanks to our team, clients and partners who make these things possible.

PS – Prolific North has a PR list, an integrated list and a digital list. Given that we operate across the increasingly blurred disciplines of PR, marketing, digital, design, video, animation and social media it’s always a bit of a head-scratching moment working out why you’re on one list and not another, but if you’re looking for strategic comms support please get in touch.

Thanks for reading


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Northern Spire: Hard hats and sequins – the secret to successful infrastructure communications

Karen and Chris are heading back to Sunderland shortly to do a joint event with Sunderland City Council’s communications team about all things Northern Spire from a PR perspective.

If you like the sound of that you can book a ticket on the CIPR North East eventbrite site and read on below to find out more.

“It’s all about hard hats, sequins and having a narrative that can really engage the community.”

Successful infrastructure projects take years to deliver – so where do you start, how do you keep people engaged and what do you need to do to get your regional project in front of 11 million people on Strictly on a Saturday night?

Hear from the award-winning communications team behind the success of Northern Spire – Sunderland’s new bridge.

Karen Westcott from DTW will be joined by Paula James from Sunderland City Council to give a behind the scenes look at all things ‘Northern Spire’ and outline how the project team has engaged the local community, stakeholders and the media over the past three-and-a-half years.

Get the inside story on hosting William and Kate on a secret Royal visit to a live construction site, running a school site visit programme for 2,300 children, persuading construction teams to create 10-metre high media viewing platforms at a day’s notice, dealing with the Strictly team, and achieving 99% positive/neutral media coverage and all the other things you need to do to put communications at the heart of a major engineering and infrastructure project like Northern Spire.

DTW Managing Director Chris Taylor will also share his insight on devising and delivering long-term campaigns for major projects tackling difficult topics, looking at issues like strategic planning, engaging at Board level, partnership working and staying on track through good times and bad.

All that and a bacon sandwich with a view overlooking the 105m high Northern Spire, the north east’s tallest structure and newest landmark – what more could you want for a Wednesday morning!

The CIPR NE event takes place on 14th November at 8am at Liberty Browns just next to Northern Spire.

See you there!