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Content is king

April 19, 2017 – Sananur Meric, Senior Account Manager

Content is King

According to the latest report from The Content Marketing Institute (CMI), almost 87% of marketers use content marketing as part of wider strategies – and the 13% who don’t, plan to incorporate it into campaigns later on in the year.

Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of online material to stimulate interest in products and services. It is valuable to both agencies and clients alike because results can be clearly measured, showing what works and what needs to be refined or revised. It is used to engage with the target audience with the end goal of generating quality leads.

Indeed, there are a number of initiatives which marketers use on a daily basis to get results for clients. Just some of the content marketing activities include:

  • Webinars
  • Blogs
  • White papers and online research reports
  • Infographics
  • E-newsletters
  • Direct Mail
  • Social media
  • Google Analytics
  • Keyword research (SEO)

The key findings of CMI’s report highlight:

  • The top two content marketing tools are analytics (84%) and dedicated email platforms (72%).
  • The top three content marketing strategies are blogs at 93%; social media posts at 80%; and e-newsletters at 78%. Indeed, email is the top tool through which marketers prefer to distribute content, at 88%; second is professional networking site LinkedIn at 84%; third is Twitter at 82%; Facebook is the fourth most popular choice at 68%.

There are a variety of combinations that marketers can employ to gain results. Good quality blog content, webinars and e-newsletters are all effective in terms of targeting audiences and tracking their interests. Following up with analytics is key, in addition to tracking social media conversations and keyword research. By acting upon feedback and reports on your campaigns, you can tailor future activities to ensure they engage your target audience as affectively as possible.

Above everything else marketers need to ensure that content published is relevant, consistent and valuable to the audience. It’s no use just pumping out content for the sake of it – building an engaged community of followers and influencers means you need to give them something that is truly of benefit or interest.

If you would like to employ a targeted content marketing campaign, Quantum can help. Please get in touch for some more information and to have a no obligation chat – 01233 500200.

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Bad press for United Airlines is a reminder of the power of social media

April 11, 2017 – Beverley Southern, Account Executive

United Airlines

Watching the news this morning, I was horrified to see video footage of a man, reportedly a doctor, being dragged from his seat and forcibly removed from a United Airlines aeroplane to make room for staff. The online reaction implies I was not the only one who was shocked by the airlines’ methods of dealing with an overbooked flight.

The story, which has been reported across a variety of online, print and broadcast outlets, has reminded me (and undoubtedly many other PR professionals) of the power of social media in today’s society.

The video was shared on Facebook by a passenger on the aircraft and has been viewed more than 14 million times in just a couple of days. Many of the comments on the video are anger-filled, with disgusted individuals refusing to fly with United Airlines again. A hashtag, #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos, has received more than 60,000 responses on Twitter.

Without these platforms, would this story have received such a huge reaction? I highly doubt it. The news ‘got out’ online, with angry passengers onboard the aeroplane sharing images of the scenes which were shared among friends and followers. Without this, the story might not have even come to light.

Even if it had been reported, without social media it is unlikely that the story would have gained the response that it has. Social media offers people the freedom to voice their opinions openly – something which can be extremely damaging to an organisation’s reputation.

In traditional media, today’s news might have been tomorrow’s chip paper, but with the nature of digital media, it’s unlikely this will be forgotten anytime soon.

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Howard’s Gibraltar gaffe shows the value of considered communications

April 5, 2017 – Michael Taylor, Account Manager

Gibraltar

This week former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard caused a furore with his comments over Gibraltar in an interview with Sky News. In response to the announcement that the EU appeared to have handed Spain a veto over “the Rock’s” future in Brexit negotiations, Lord Howard claimed that Theresa May would show the same resolve to stand by the people of Gibraltar that Margaret Thatcher had shown during the Falklands War.

Many commentators leapt upon Howard’s statement, claiming he was advocating that Britain would be prepared to go to war over Gibraltar. For their part the Spanish – famed for their own cool heads and rational approach to Gibraltar’s sovereignty – suggested that Britain should calm down and regain its “traditional composure”, while Mrs May laughed off the suggestion. Number 10 explained that Lord Howard was simply establishing the lengths of Britain’s “resolve” to defend the territory’s sovereignty by providing an historical example.

Howard had commented: “Thirty-five years ago this week, another woman Prime Minister sent a taskforce halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country, and I’m absolutely certain that our current Prime Minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar.”

While this statement may not be terribly helpful, particularly in light of the strained UK-EU relations and the historically heated context of Gibraltar’s sovereignty, to be fair to Howard he didn’t actually say that the Prime Minister would go to war with Spain (who are, after all, our ally in NATO).
However, it highlights how easily an off-the-cuff remark can be misinterpreted by commentators eager to read between the lines and provide their own representation of what a statement really meant.

As communications professionals, we can all learn something from this episode. If a seasoned political heavy-weight like Michael Howard, who has been in the media spotlight for more than 30 years, can get himself in hot water with a few poorly chosen words then the rest of us need to take extra precautions to ensure that our clients’ messages are as clear and easy to interpret as possible. After all, when you’re in the business of communicating there is surely no substitute for clarity.

Then again, perhaps Howard’s statement contained just the right degree of veiled, calculated threat to make the EU think twice about its standpoint on Gibraltar’s role in the Brexit negotiations…

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Effective consultation and communications can speed up new home delivery

March 29, 2017 – Michael Taylor, Account Manager

Plans
There’s no doubt that the UK is currently in the midst of a housing crisis. For decades, this country has failed to build enough new homes, even as population and demographic changes have contributed to ever-increasing demand.

The consensus is that we need to build between 225,000 and 275,000 more homes each year to keep up with population growth and start to tackle years of under-supply. The UK has averaged closer to 160,000 homes per year since the 1970s.

During this time house prices have seen remarkable growth; today the average house costs almost eight times average earnings, an all-time record. More people are forced to rent long-term and getting onto the ladder in the first place is increasingly difficult.

A recent report by housing charity Shelter suggested that nearly eight out of 10 families across England are unable to afford newly built homes in their local area. Even in the affluent South East and London, most families cannot afford to buy an average new-build house, even with Help to Buy (84% of families and 81% of families respectively).

Shelter says housing developers are required to maximise returns on their substantial investments and so they cannot risk lowering the prices of the homes they build for sale. Therefore they only add to housing stock gradually, which keeps supply beneath demand and prices artificially high. As of July 2016 there were 684,000 homes with detailed planning permission granted on sites which had not yet been completed. Of these, building had started on just over half (349,000 homes).

That private sector companies have a duty to make profits and please shareholders shouldn’t come as any great surprise. Doubtless there are sites where developers have planning permission but have decided that the project will not make sufficient profit to be worthwhile at a given time. The Shelter report is correct to highlight the problem; after all, if we want and need more houses to be built then somebody needs to get on and build them.

But this argument doesn’t tell the whole story. For one thing, large scale housing developments take time to come to fruition. While a developer may have been given permission to build 5,000 homes on a given site, they are highly likely to adopt a phased approach to delivery in order to ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place to support the finished development. It’s a very obvious point, but houses do also take some time to build, particularly if we (quite rightly) aspire to deliver high quality, sustainable and architecturally appropriate developments.

Secondly, the planning process gives greater opportunities for consultation and feedback from local communities than ever before. The theory goes that giving the population of a neighbourhood a greater say over what happens in their area enhances democratic decision-making. But the corollary is that it provides more scope for local people to object to housing developments in their communities which can lead to a protracted planning process, raising costs for developers and local authorities and ultimately frustrating the ability of developers to get on with the task at hand.

Effective communications with the local community, key stakeholders, opinion formers and decision makers can make the difference between success and failure for a housing project. Taking the time to speak to local people and find out their concerns can provide valuable input and feedback for developers.
Quantum has been involved with numerous housing developments in Kent and the South East. In our experience, there is always likely to be a contingent of local people who are opposed to development, generally for any or all of the following reasons: increased traffic and air pollution, pressure on infrastructure and local services, loss of natural habitats (where the development is on a greenfield site or greenbelt land).

On the face of it, Nimbyism is perfectly understandable – most of us accept the need for new homes, we just generally don’t want them built next door. But if we accept that local people are likely to initially oppose local development, then it stands to reason that a comprehensive strategy to communicate and engage with them is necessary to share the positive aspects of the development and counterbalance dissenting opposition voices.

Engagement should be seen as a chance to really get to grips with the opinions, concerns and indeed areas of support offered by local communities and stakeholders, which can be fed into the planning process.
It is doubtful that every objector will be won over, but by making some accommodations and addressing the concerns of local people, developers have the opportunity to change people’s minds and stand the best chance of getting their plans approved.

If you have a housing or infrastructure project, talk to Quantum PR about our public consultation and planning support services http://quantumpr.co.uk/planning-communications.php

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Nostalgia for Nokia 3310 is a marketing dream

March 3, 2017 – Michael Taylor, Account Manager

Snake
There’s no doubt that we live in an age of ever-increasing technological sophistication – indeed, in so many aspects of our lives it’s hard to remove ourselves from the increasingly interconnected world we inhabit. The so-called ‘internet of things’ – that is, interconnection via the Internet of everyday objects – forms an ever-expanding core of the products and services we’re told we really want and need in our lives.

Whether it’s the smartphone in your pocket, the smart watch on your arm, the multi-functional printer in your office, or even your coffee machine, it feels like everything is moving in the same direction – touch screen, HDMI ready, Bluetooth compatible, and too clever for its own good!

It seems we can’t conceive of a product’s viability and usefulness unless it connects to everything else in our lives so that, wherever we are, we can still find that adorable video of a panda cub sneezing or a three-legged dog skateboarding – and then share it with everyone we know.

So it may have come as a surprise to many to see the media furore provoked by Nokia’s launch announcement for the ‘new’ 3310 at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It’s not really a new phone at all; it’s a slightly upgraded version of the same model that Nokia stopped making 17 years ago. In the smartphone world, the new Nokia 3310 has an IQ well below average. And yet, Nokia is capitalising on something that is an almost priceless commodity in marketing – nostalgia.

Doubtless the ‘younger generation’ – of which I am sadly no longer a member – will look on and wonder why such hype has been created by the launch of a product that is, quite obviously, inferior to any modern smartphone on the market today – some of which launched to far less clamorous interest at MWC despite offering truly incredible features, such as Sony’s new 4K HDR handset (that’s high dynamic resolution, or for those in my generation and older ‘an even better picture’).

You can’t easily identify what someone will feel nostalgic about. Some products are re-invigorated and labelled ‘retro’ (like record players) – and retro is effortlessly cool. But some products are just old (like an Austin Metro) – and trying to make old look cool is just sad.

Perhaps it’s just that Nokia has spotted a gap in the market – that despite the ever-improving functionality of modern smartphones, they are now all much of a muchness, with their hi-res screens, mega pixel cameras and plethora of ‘really useful’ apps. In the world of the mobile phone, meaningful product differentiation is king, and perhaps some people actually just want a cheap phone with a long battery life. Some people, perhaps, aren’t interested in seeing the panda cub sneezing in 4K HDR in the palm of their hand over a 4G network – perish the thought!

Then again, the Nokia 3310 was the first phone that many of us ever owned. We learnt to text on its clunky buttons, we stopped having to carry loose change for emergency phone calls. It brought Snake to our thumb tips for goodness sake (look it up youngsters…although you may be underwhelmed). All that nostalgia is something a company like Nokia can capitalise on – just ask someone of my generation if they remember Snake and their eyes are likely to glaze over as they reminisce about the good old days.
In re-launching the 3310, Nokia has seemingly hit on a perfect trinity of marketing essentials: timing, product nostalgia and brand recognition. Doubtless a host of other manufacturers like Motorola and HTC will roll-out ‘new’ versions of their old products over the coming months. The launch announcements will probably be made to the tops of heads, as the audience busily chase pixelated apples around a lo-res screen with a pixelated snake…

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Fake news: bad news for PR?

February 9, 2017 – Beverley Southern, Account Executive

Fake newsHow much of a problem is fake news for PR? Over the last few weeks, consumers have been forced into a position of being sceptical about the accuracy of reporting from news outlets. The increasing problem of fake news has tarnished the public’s trust in the media and has ultimately created a world of people with little faith in what is published, analysing and criticising all that they read and taking stories with a pinch of salt.

As the media is one of the key communication devices for PR professionals, it is no wonder that the scepticism coming from consumers has caused anxiety within the industry. Fake news has, to some extent, devalued PR calling into question the legitimacy of the stories that once would have been considered true and accepted.

However, the fake news epidemic could work to the advantage of PR professionals, who have an opportunity to use their relationship with journalists – a relationship based on trust – to become a reliable source of information. In a choppy sea of fake news, the PR industry could just be the lighthouse that saves journalism from drowning in waves of uncertainty and inaccuracy.

Any business could be on the receiving end of a fake news story and these stories can easily go viral through digital and social media. It is important to have a plan of action in place to ensure that any fake news issues are handled efficiently and smoothly. A crisis plan which outlines how to address false rumours could be crucial in ensuring brand reputations are upheld.

While fake news has the potential to be devastating for some, on the whole it creates opportunities for PR to shine. Not only can we build on our relationships with the media, but we can also be the white knight for brands that are in the fake news firing line.

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Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

January 12, 2017 – Sananur Meric, Senior Account Manager

Sunrise 2017Let’s make 2017 a fresh start.

Sometimes it can be hard to make a change and look at things from a different perspective. This is especially true of many marketing and communications plans where the same strategies are employed year in, year out.

Believe it or not, there are new and different things you can do – starting this year – to revitalise your company’s marketing initiatives to boost reputation, rankings and revenue.

A business can change dramatically in just one short year, through operational changes, economic climate and uncertainty as well as staff and client changes. Every one of these factors will have an impact on the way a company operates, so carrying on as usual isn’t really an option.

Being open to starting from scratch is the first step in looking at how to refresh your marketing and communications strategy. Undertake the trusted SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

  • Review what has worked over the past year and, more importantly, what hasn’t. Retain positive elements of previous campaigns and ditch fruitless efforts.
  • Assess how your business is viewed against competitors. Have you researched what they’re doing recently? Keep on top of sector developments and legislation. Commenting on topical issues and sparking discussion through blogs and social media is a good way to do this.
  • Review messaging and branding. Any changes to the sector you work in (as well as changes to your business) will alter your key messages and how the business is portrayed. When was the last time your website was redesigned, or even updated? It is good practice to review website design and functionality every two years given how quickly technology changes.  Don’t forget to cater to the needs of mobile visitors, as well as those accessing your website from a desktop PC. Research by Ofcom suggests that a third of internet users see their smartphone as their primary device for going online.
  • Content rate optimisation (improving the user’s experience on your site) is vital to ensuring visitors find the information they need and take the action you want them to. After all, that’s the primary role of your website, and if it does not function adequately then you’re missing out on potential leads or sales!
  • Take a chance and try something new. You may find adding a new element to your marketing and communications plan will help to increase brand awareness and engagement with existing and potential clients provided they are targeted effectively. E-newsletter and e-shots promoting services and products are often a good first step in widening a business’s reach to new audiences and can be developed quickly and efficiently.

If you need assistance with developing a marketing plan, refreshing an existing strategy, or just need some advice then call us today for a no obligation chat – 01233 500 200.

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Trump’s victory: It’s about language, stupid

November 11, 2016 – Michael Taylor, Account Manager

donald trumpSo the votes have been cast and counted, and Donald J. Trump, an outspoken business tycoon and real estate mogul who has never before held public office, will soon be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

The President-Elect’s victory has shocked many commentators around the world and upset the natural order of rule by the Establishment. So far then “The Donald” has achieved what he set out to – a seismic upheaval of the status quo and a massive “up yours” to the prevailing consensus. Or, to use language that Mr Trump’s supporters might understand, “He’s changed things”.

Language is at the very heart of Trump’s success. Commentators are correct that he’s pulled off what can only be described as a shocking victory, against all the odds. But if the UK’s Brexit vote taught us anything, it’s that the bookmakers and the pollsters are anything but infallible.

To dismiss Trump, as many did, as a narcissistic, egomaniacal, self-obsessed, borderline sociopath is to rather miss the point. He may well be all of these things. But an analysis of the way he has communicated with his core base of support throughout this campaign gives an insight into his appeal to his followers: the marginalised, disenfranchised, blue collar, white American workers who have become so disillusioned by continually being overlooked by Washington’s elite that they hung on his every word and carried him across the finish line of this bitter and divisive contest.

At his heart Trump is a salesman and a self-professed “deal-maker” and he recognised better than anybody that to win the presidency you have to sell yourself. His speech is often incoherent, his policy ideas bare and uninformed, his ideology an enunciation of populist concerns, rather than an overtly-Republican world view.

Trump has always understood what all the other candidates, both during the Republican nominations and the race to the White House, didn’t – that a groundswell of public opposition to the establishment could be exploited in the pursuit of power. And he did what others didn’t; he spoke to the disenfranchised on their level, with language they understood, about issues they cared about.

If you think honestly about the most convincing sales pitches, were you swayed by the product or by the salesperson? More often than not I’d argue that the personality of the salesperson, and your trust in them, is what leads most people to buy. In short, Trump sold himself more effectively and more convincingly to his target audiences; he persuaded them to buy his product, his brand, rather than his competitor’s.

To identify what makes Trump’s language different, we can look at the shape of his sentences. One analysis found that he talks at just below that of an 11-year-old’s reading level, compared with the 14-15 year-old reading levels at which his competitors speak. This may not be particularly complimentary to American voters, but his victory shows the success of this approach.

His speech patterns don’t work the way modern political rhetoric does – they work the way punch lines work: short (sometimes very short) sentences, monosyllabic words, with the most important words at the end to add extra emphasis and leave an enduring impression in the listeners’ minds. He almost speaks in Tweets, and his ability to harness the power of social media to drive his campaign forward has provided him with an invaluable platform to directly engage and communicate with his followers in real time. He often repeats key words, uses commands like “look at [this]” and consistently implies third-party endorsement and support from unnamed and unverifiable sources who have contacted him personally to drive home his message.

His rhetorical approach is rare among modern politicians, and not simply because they lack Trump’s showmanship, celebrity or comedic gifts. It’s rare because most successful modern politicians are fanatically careful about the language they use. They are keenly aware of the ways in which any word they speak may be (mis)interpreted by journalists, partisan groups, and citizens.

But Trump’s approach reinforces and retrenches his stance as the political outsider, a standpoint that chimes with his key audiences, as did his continual accusations that the political process in the country was “rigged” by a cabal of establishment politicians and their media flunkies. If Trump’s opponents can take solace in anything, it’s that his victory proves the system is not rigged in the establishment’s interests (or if it is, not sufficiently so to deny him his success).

Not only did he speak to his target audiences in a way they could understand, and which didn’t make them feel patronised, he convinced them that he was one of them, with the same shared beliefs, concerns and goals. And he goaded his opponent into further marginalising his supporters, with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton calling his followers “deplorables”. It’s no small feat for a billionaire property tycoon, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, to win over the very people who so often get exploited in the pursuit of amassing such a vast fortune.

Throughout the campaign, commentators found it easy to write Trump off as an idiot and a maniac… before he won. But win he did, and whatever partisan or personal opinions you hold about his character and policy approach, what he’s achieved in politics so far is monumental.

Far from being an idiot, Trump is a pragmatic salesman and astute communicator who tapped into the vehement underbelly of America’s disenfranchised masses and drove them to the polling booths. He had a clear plan about how to seize power and he executed it perfectly. Central to his success is his command of appropriate and effective communication tools.

It remains to be seen whether this astute pragmatism is transplanted from the campaign trail to the Oval Office and whether his promises to unify the county and “Bind the wounds of division” are sincere. To be sure, this Presidential campaign has inflicted wounds on American society that are deeper than most in recent history.

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The Quantum Apprentice: You’re Hired!

October 27, 2016 – Beverley Southern, Account Executive

Sue Buckle, Seymour Pearman, Michael Taylor, Sananur Meric, Beverley Southern, Craig FrancisWhen I began my PRCA apprenticeship with Quantum PR in July 2015, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Leaving school and walking straight into work was a little daunting, but it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Having studied Media at school, I knew that I wanted to start a career that involved working with the media and found the apprenticeship opportunity online. A career in PR seemed perfect for me because of the range of job roles involved and the variety of people I’d be working with, and I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to become Quantum’s first apprentice in June 2015.

My apprenticeship has been varied and exciting, and I have had the chance to work with a number of different people, from colleagues to clients to members of the public. I have gained experience working on different accounts and have helped to boost the output of many of our clients’ social media channels, as well as contributing to copy for newsletters, websites and reports, and helping to organise events.

One thing that my apprenticeship has taught me is that PR is definitely not all about press releases.
Throughout my 15 month apprenticeship, I’ve also been working towards a Level 4 Diploma in Public Relations with the PRCA. I’ve now completed my coursework, which has taught me lots about the background and processes of PR that I’m hoping will help me in my future career. I’ve also been involved in training sessions and online webinars which have given me valuable of information about the industry.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet regularly with my PRCA mentor, Sue Buckle, who has offered plenty of support and advice along the way, and it’s fantastic to finally see my coursework progress bar reach 100%!

My time as the Quantum Apprentice has absolutely flown by and I’ve learnt so many new skills that I’m sure will help me throughout my career. It’s been wonderful working with such a talented team of individuals and I’m grateful for all the advice they’ve given me, as well as the opportunities and experience I’ve gained from my time here.

I’m delighted to have been offered a permanent position with the company, and will be working as an Account Executive from the beginning of November. The work I will be undertaking won’t be dissimilar to the roles I have been completing throughout the past 15 months, but I’m looking forward to taking on more responsibility and learning more about industry best practice and Quantum’s clients.

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A Week in the Life: Work Experience at Quantum

June 21, 2016 – admin

NedI am 20 years old and currently studying History at Nottingham Trent University. Despite History being my chosen course, I have become increasingly interested in pursuing a career in PR. PR appeals to me due to the variety and nature of work that PR practitioners undertake, and I was intrigued to find out what it was really like.

After deciding to explore this career path further, I discovered that I had a link with Quantum PR as I am related to Charlie Vavasour, the Managing Director. After doing some research into the business and discovering that the type of PR they deliver appealed to me, I decided to set up some work experience with them.

Having no previous experience in the world of PR, I was eager to come and try it for myself and learn more about the industry and company, picking up some new skills at the same time.

On my first day at Quantum I was slightly apprehensive, but meeting the team put my mind at ease and I was ready to sink my teeth into some PR.

I started my first day by sitting in on a meeting with the team, who were reviewing their various tasks and responsibilities for the week. This gave me an insight into what everyone does individually.

After this, I was asked to draft my first press release for a small food supplier called Nifties, a social enterprise company which sells short-dated and damaged food items at lower prices for customer benefit. This was a great new experience for me and the style and format was different to any writing I had done before.

During my time at Quantum PR, I was given tasks that provided me with a great insight into the PR world and were also challenging as a stranger to the industry.

I undertook some extensive research into The Oxygen Clinic, drafting some social media posts for their hyperbaric oxygen chambers and sourcing stories which demonstrated the benefits of oxygen therapy, as well as doing the same for BlackBox Solutions, a printing and copier company. The diversity of these two businesses required considerable research to tailor the content appropriately.

In addition to this, I produced a first draft of The Oxygen Clinic’s e-newsletter, which was a great new challenge. I was also asked to type up the data received from feedback forms at a public consultation event in Northamptonshire, and transcribe a radio interview.

The feedback from everyone at Quantum was really helpful in improving my skills and knowledge about the industry. Several other skills such as coffee-making and shredding were also honed.

My time at Quantum PR has been a fantastic experience for me and has definitely set my mind on pursuing a career within the industry. I have learnt a great deal, and would like to thank everyone for teaching me the ways of the business and making me feel so welcome!

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