Happy holidays

It’s the holiday summer season so we asked the #TeamDTW about their best & worst holidays, top travel tips and why we don’t miss the soggy camping trips of their youth.

CaliforniaWhen it comes to favourite destinations, most of the DTW gang take the Pet Shop Boys advice and Go West. Yosemite National Park, Barbados, Florida and California are the most popular choices although MD Chris rates Australia as his favourite destination, while designer Sarah Bibby loved Skiathos in Greece.

Not every holiday is a great one though. MD Chris had an interesting time skiing in communist Romania, while Social Media manager Guy wouldn’t go back to Riga in Latvia if you paid him “The only city I’ve ever been to designed on an etch-a-sketch”. Director Hayley Stewart endured a nightmare time in Ibiza with her young son – more concrete than beach – while Account manager Karen Westcott and Administrator Jan Tyler were both kept awake all night by boozy brits abroad in Barcelona and Tenerife respectively.

Brits abroad behaving badly is a recurring theme, Sarah once shared a hotel with a family from Middlesbrough in Greece who were so awful she pretended to be foreign so they wouldn’t recognise her accent and try to make friends with her!

The most explosive experience, literally, happened to Karen on her honeymoon in Hermanus, South Africa. The lodge she was staying in caught fire and burned down destroying most of their clothes and her new husband’s expensive new watch. They were rescued by the team from Jackass who were staying at the same place and kindly let them stay the night in their accommodation until help arrived. The charred remains of the watch are now framed on the wall at home!

We all have a lot of affection for the UK and holidays at home throughout the team though; even rainy camping trips in Scotland from our childhood are fondly remembered with the distance of time. The wide-open landscapes of Wales, the rugged coastlines of Scotland and Cornwall, the beauty of the Lake District and the relentless fun of Centre Parcs are all on our collective itinerary for this summer.

We’re a diverse bunch when we get to where we’re going to – designer Paula Dickinson likes walking and exploring the local sights, Hayley enjoys her pool and beach time as well as the relaxing evening meal as does MD Chris. Keen readers Jan and Sarah won’t leave the house without their holiday books or Kindles. Sarah read as many as five books on her last holiday while Guy likes taking in the local culture when he’s away – “going to local sports if any are on or even watching a bit of foreign TV to try and work out what the adverts are for”.

Happy Holidays from #TeamDTW!

#teamDTW Creative PR

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear Glass

We’ve just joined the Google Glass Explorer programme.

Now I’m guessing most people reading this are either thinking “The what?” or “That’s cool.”

If it’s the latter you’re right. Not only is it cool but its simple to use and is already adding value to the way we work with our clients.

If you don’t know what Google Glass is you can find out straight from the Google itself, but basically it looks like a pair of glasses but it’s a computer with a tiny screen (and a built-in high quality video-camera) just inches from your eye that you can talk to.

Yes, really.

It’s part of what those trendy types are calling wearable technology, but what’s really interesting is what you can do with it.

The potential for training programmes, almost instant video uploads to Youtube and for capturing content from a unique first person perspective is fantastic.

We’ve let our Social and Digital Manager Guy Bailey loose to do some R&D work with the glasses over the past week, and he still hasn’t stopped smiling. Basically he’s in charge of having fun whilst working out the vast number of applications for the new technology. We’ll keep you up to speed with the opportunities, but in the meantime if you want to have a demo of how it all works get in touch with and let’s talk.

PS – Thanks to Timbuk 3 for the headline inspiration (if you’re under 30 and you care you’ve probably already googled it)

#teamDTW Creative PR

Life Through a Lens – Google Glass arrives at DTW

DTW Digital and Social Media Manager Guy Bailey takes us through the Looking Glass…

I’m a gadget guy. Always have been, a child of the ZX Spectrum generation, I measured my own and humanity’s progress based on access to the latest advances and cool devices. For most people growing up in the eighties, Tomorrow’s World was the annoying, swotty buffer between Top of the Pops and The Young Ones while for me it was a catalogue from the future.

Glass-boxOne family in every neighbourhood was always the first to have a Walkman, or a Diskman, or the latest Brevill Sandwich Toaster. My dad shared my love of the shiny so it was us. True, it frequently led us down many a silicon cul de sac as we chose the loser in a two-horse tech race – Betamax over VHS, Intellivision over Atari, TCR over Scalectrix – but at least we were at the party.

I continued to blaze a trail through the nineties and noughties with my calculator watches, digital diaries and Palm pilots until the dawn of the Smartphone revolution when everyone got in on the act. When I heard about Google Glass, I turned into a hyper eight year old again.

You can read about what Glass is and does, and why DTW has sensibly got in on the ground floor – but let’s talk about what it was like when my colleagues and I got to hold the future in our hands for the very first time.

The majority of the designers I work with were far more interested in typefaces, fonts and box layout than the actual piece of kit itself. Although Google being Google, it looked exquisite and as if it had fallen through a wormhole from the very near future.

Holding them as if they were made of Unicorn hair and fairy wings, I gently placed them on the bridge of my nose and powered them on. Adjusting the moveable eyepiece into my field of vision, a black welcome screen emerged with the GLASS logo gently appearing.

A welcome video played and guided you through the first uneasy steps into navigating your way around the device. You literally stroke the side of the glasses with your finger forward and backward to take you through various menu settings and double tap it to select your favoured option.

If you make a wrong turn, which is easily done at first, you can slide your finger downwards to cancel the screen and return you to the ubiquitous homescreen with a pleasing clanging sound.

The homescreen is where you will spend most of your time in Glass and can be accessed with a tap of the glasses, lifting your head up to a certain degree or if you specifiy it yourself, by winking. Yes, winking.

karen-glassThe screen displays the time and the phrase ‘OK, Glass’. This is a phrase you will become very familiar with. Say ‘OK Glass’ loud enough for it to hear but not so loud that you look like the crazy man outside Pret A Manger, and you access a list of suggested commands you can give to glass such as take a photo, record a video, send a message, play a game etc.

Glass works via Bluetooth and wifi so can work independently of another Android device or iPhone but it works best when paired with one. This gives Glass access to your email, calendar, SMS messages and more, so you can see notifications and messages in your screen as and when they appear. Other apps also link into Glass and it has its own select utilities that take advantage of its unique capabilities including a star map to identify constellations, Evernote, Tumblr and the busy media professionals’ tool of choice right now – IFTTT.

The camera and video recording features give Glass another unique edge. Filmed from your first person perspective, you literally just look and click. There is also a manual button on top of the glasses for you to take a picture, or hold it for longer and it will start taping a 10 second video clip. If you press the button again during this recording, it will remove the time limit and continue recording for as long as you want to, or your battery allows. Once recorded, you can upload it to any YouTube account you have or share it via email or SMS.

Sarah-glassIt’s an amazing device in itself but, like the iPhone and iPad before it, its key functionality will come out of what the community makes for it. When the iPhone was launched, all everybody was concerned about was call quality and the novelty of web access. Nobody mentioned the App store – which is its primary feature today.

The potential for Glass is huge with geolocation, augmented reality, facial-recognition, real-time video streaming, social networking and journalism uses waiting to be unleashed. Right now, you won’t see too many in the wild, especially in the North East, but as more users join the Explorer program, new and exciting designs come out from Diana Von Furstenberg, Ray Ban and others and word gets out on one or two killer applications and uses go mainstream, then the Glass ceiling will be broken – and recorded live while you do it.



#teamDTW PR

New recruits bring an international flavour to DTW

We’ve gone global in the search for recruits to join our award-winning team at DTW in Guisborough.

Guy Bailey, Chris Sealey and Laura Hepburn have all become part of our growing team in the past few weeks.

Guy returns to the North East following four years in Atlanta, while Chris has relocated following five years in Sydney. Laura is from that other far-flung part of the globe – Yorkshire – Whitby to be precise.

We’re grateful to the help and support we’ve had from Tees Valley Unlimited’s Jobs and Skills Investment Scheme, which has helped us invest in growing the team to continue developing new skills and services.

Find out a bit more about our new friends….

GuyGuy Bailey – Digital and Social Media Manager

Guy is a PR, social media and digital expert, writer and blogger with more than 16 years experience co-ordinating campaigns, messaging and media outreach for organisations such as the BBC, the Open University and Thames Valley Police in the UK, and RE/MAX and Kennesaw State University in the United States.


Laura_flagLaura Hepburn – Creative Project Co-ordinator

Laura has a diverse background in all disciplines of design, marketing and communications for the public, private and third sector. She has a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design. A Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Photography, followed by an MA in Future Design. Alongside her commercial career she has Qualified Teacher and Learning Skills for lecturing at higher education institutes.

Laura brings 16 years experience of the design industry to DTW. She participates in cutting edge exhibitions, conferences and think tanks on behalf of the Parliament of Social Design, Teesside University and the wider design industry. Laura also has skills in photography, illustration and print.

ChrisChris Sealey, PR Account Manager

Chris has 12 years experience in media and public relations. Starting his career as a reporter at the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, in 2005 he moved to the Daily Mail where he reported on the London terror attacks, and that year’s General Election. He has also worked for BBC Online’s UK news desk, as well as a range of regional newspapers.

In Sydney, Chris worked for a number of New South Wales state government departments, providing communications and media support, and working as a ministerial media adviser to the roads and transport minister.


World Cup Fever!

World Cup Fever is in full flow at DTW and while we haven’t been laid low yet, even the non-football lovers in the office are definitely looking a bit peaky.

Early World Cup memories trend towards the iconic rather than the mundane – Account Manager Chris Sealey watching the acrobatic Hugo Sanchez scoring a trademark bicycle kick for Mexico in the 1986 competition; Director Pete Whelan remembers David Platt’s injury time swivel volley against Belgium in 1990 while MD Chris Taylor and Social Media Manager Guy Bailey had just opened their bottles of American cream soda when Bryan Robson put England ahead of France in 27 seconds in 1982.

Italia 90 looms large in our collective favourite tournament although the revisionist views says that unless you’re English, Irish or German, it wasn’t one for the ages although Pete Whelan now understands that this tournament was the exception not the rule for the boys in White or Red. Chris Sealey bravely stated that Brazil 2014 would top the lot but he did reply before Luis Suarez turned up.

Most impressive team seen at a championships tends to gravitate towards the winners with the French vintage of 1998, the current Spain team (again written before the Holland and Chile games) and the boys of ’66 although everyone’s favourite other team – Brazil 1982 gets a nod.

We like our ball-playing midfielders at DTW with Gazza, Steven Gerrard, Zico and Sergio Busquets getting votes for favourite players on the biggest stage and we thought the winners would come from a narrow field of Spain, Argentina, Brazil or Colombia – Guy Bailey enjoying the vicarious thrill of an outsider coming in on the rails.

Regardless of how the rest of the tournament turns out, we all hope that at the end of the day, football is the winner. Unless it’s Uruguay, in which case they can bloomin’ well stage the whole thing again.

#teamDTW Video

It was the night before Christmas…

They say never work with children and animals, but we at DTW recently broke both of those rules when we decided this year to produce a Christmas video instead of a greetings card.

But could we really pull it off in such a short space of time? Despite many a dubious glance, and at least one “I’ll eat an elf’s hat if you pull this off!” we got everyone together for…an interesting couple of hours.

Trying to direct a one-year old to “Crawl like this”, and explaining to at least three separate six year olds what their motivation for the scene was, you might have been mistaken for thinking you had walked onto the set of a Hollywood blockbuster film.

But, you wouldn’t have been mistaken for too long, with mince-pie encrusted carpet stains and tinsel coming out of our ears… literally, I thought, maybe, this time we had gone too far, reflecting back to the night the idea was born, I asked myself ‘Had someone had too many wines on a school night?’

However, despite the crying noises of several tired and frustrated babies, chocolate handprints all over the photocopier, dog hairs on the Christmas Tree, and the curious case of the missing chocolate coins that never made it to the bright lights of the tree branches, (a mystery still to this day) we somehow managed to get all the footage we needed.

But, chaos and stress aside it was a lovely afternoon… Hopefully not to be repeated too soon, and the lesson we all learnt was when you prove people wrong…make them eat their elf hat!