RKH go to the races

Last Tuesday, we decided to do something a little different and arranged a team evening out at Leicester Racecourse. Blessed with the perfect weather for it, we arrived just in time to grab some drinks and make the most of the beautiful sunshine.

After getting ourselves settled in a good spot, we looked over the race guide to see which horses were racing and pretended to know what we were doing. Brett chose to back Snuggy as soon as he saw the name - it’s also the name of his son's favourite toy and so of course he took it as a sign and had to give it a shot.

It seemed like it could be anyone’s race as we all anxiously watched the horses vying for position. Snuggy finally broke away and took the lead right at the last moment, leaving us excitedly cheering him on as he crossed the finish line and Brett feeling pretty pleased with himself. Jess, Will and Kyle all got lucky over the next few races too.

For the 6th and final race, we decided to all put in a few quid and collectively back the biggest outsider, Gabby’s Lad at 33/1. Having the underdog come in would have been such a great way to end the evening, and splitting the £544 winnings would have been pretty nice too! However, despite getting our hopes up by being at the front of the pack for almost half of the race, he lost it towards the end and came trailing in behind the others in dead last.

It wasn’t all bad though, Faye picked the winning horse in the last race and ended up being our big winner of the night. She had said to us how much she liked Tulip Dress’ name right from the start of the evening, and she stuck with her gut even despite the horse being a huge outsider.

Well done Faye, Brett, Jess, Kyle and Will… Better luck next time everyone else!

Hive Society Honey

Back in June last year we welcomed tens of thousands of eager new workers to the RKH office. Ready for their arrival, we assembled The Hive Society, a crack team of RKHers tasked with keeping them all in check and well looked after in their new rooftop home. 

Our workers have been through a lot since they arrived. We’ve been plagued by bad weather and the conditions have been pretty unideal for honey making, but they’ve soldiered on and made the best of it. Then, just a few weeks ago as the weather was finally starting to look up, we found them under attack from an army of greedy wasps! 

After a battle of Game of Thrones proportions, resulting in many casualties on both sides, David and Brett bravely stepped in to save the day. Risking the wrath of the wasps, they narrowed the entrances to the hives to give the bees a better chance at keeping the intruders at bay and protecting their precious honey. Thankfully it worked, and with our help, the bees prevailed. 

For our efforts, we’ve been rewarded with our first batch of delicious golden honey, fresh from the RKH hive. We all excitedly gathered in the kitchen to get our first taste and watch as it was carefully extracted from the honeycombs and strained, ready for jarring. In total, we collected 57 jars, enough for one each, plus enough spare for us to gift to friends and family. 

Our bees have done us proud, creating some of the sweetest honey we’ve ever tasted and our beautifully designed series of labels adds the perfect finishing touch to all of their hard work.

Detroit: Appetite for Reconstruction

Credit: KnitSpirit

Credit: KnitSpirit

The photographs depicting the incredible decline of Detroit are shocking but well documented. Images of abandoned hospitals, crumbling theatres, buildings engulfed by trees and slums have a tragic beauty to them. The Motor City’s glory days fell victim to increased globalised competition and a harsh recession, which forced residents to leave the city in their droves. It was the antithesis to the American Dream.

By 2014, the population had dropped to 689,000; two-fifths of the number who lived there in 1960, which explains the eerie, ‘ghost town’ feel of the photography, perhaps best captured by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. Documenting Detroit’s decline and capturing the tragedy is perhaps the easy part. As the city climbs out of bankruptcy, its recovery is slowly taking shape  and Detroiters are building their own futures in an attempt to redefine their city.

The question of what to do with the abundance of decaying houses needs to be addressed  before the city can make a realistic, long-term recovery. A glance at detroitmi.gov reveals that the local government has knocked down over 10,000 vacant homes in a two and a half year period as part of the USA’s largest ‘blight removal’ programme. With the aim to demolish a further 40,000 over the next 8 years, it looks like a trend set to continue.

Credit: Thomas Hawk

Credit: Thomas Hawk

Alongside this demolition programme, however, is the ‘Building Detroit’ initiative, where residents can buy properties at auction from as little as $1000. This makes space for some Detroiters to exercise creativity as cheap prices mean affordability for ambitious innovators with a vision. A combination of low-cost buildings, community spirit and creativity could prove to be the recipe  required to rebuild a unique identity for the city of Detroit.

Three projects that highlight the desire Detroiters have to rebuild their city are:

  1. The Brick + Beam Detroit project, which acknowledges the efforts of residents seeking to find solutions to ‘rehabbing’ existing building structures. Project funding for a supportive network to enable ‘rehabbers’ to work together and share expertise. An interactive map on The Brick + Beam website allows users to show their progress and share insight whilst the resources tab tackles issues such as hiring contractors, DIY surveying and repairs.
     
  2. Barbers and gardeners unite in a wonderfully creative partnership called ‘The Buzz Initiative’ where modern barber inspired mowing patterns are adapted for vacant lots. (Only in America, right?!) This unique solution to land management has seen different creative talents across the city unite with a shared goal and has been awarded $84,055 in funding.
     
  3. To some people, unwanted buildings are simply giant blank canvasses and those who paint them are celebrated at the annual ‘Murals in the Market Festival’, which sees 50 local and international artists paint their large scale murals across the Eastern Market District. For a dose of inspiration have a browse at the efforts from last year’s festival.

Impoverished areas sparking unique and exciting imaginative output is not new. Many places have created a specific urban identity, such as Tacheles in Berlin, the street art movement and parts of London or New York before their more recent gentrification. Hardship, natural disasters, loss, recession and other major challenges throughout history have led to creative and determined communities coming forth and reclaiming places across the globe. Instead of being known as the fallen motor city, Detroit could become known as the creative comeback kid.

In order to achieve this, local government agencies should choose to support the redevelopment of the city through the arts, seeing them as pivotal to the city’s future, understanding the value in them and, thereby, securing the sustainable regrowth of Detroit.

The RKH Summer Playlist

It's summer! To get you into the spirit, we've put together a playlist of our favourite summer tracks.

Whether you're looking for a good playlist for a long road trip, a collection of music to zone out to on the way home or you're just curious about our eclectic taste in music, check out our Spotify playlist here.

Andy
Guns & Roses - Paradise City
Nathan Fake - The Sky Was Pink (James Holden Remix)
The National - Apartment Story
Chemical Brothers - The Sunshine Underground
Roni Size - Heroes

Brett
Bill Withers - Lovely Day
Montell Jordan - This Is How We Do It

Chelsea
Bryan Adams - Summer of 69
Natalie Imbruglia - Torn

Dom
Fred Wesley - House party
N.E.R.D - hypnotize u
Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood - Summer Wine

Emily
Rusted Root - Send Me On My Way
Lion King - I Just Can’t Wait to Be King
Shakira - Hips don’t lie

Georgia
Blink 182 - All The Small Things
Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom
30 Seconds to Mars - Kings and Queens

Hannah
Lovin’ Spoonful - Summer in the City
Beach Boys - Good Vibrations
Oasis - Champagne Supernova

Harshul
Moderat - Bad Kingdom
Kano - GarageSkank
Rudimental - Rumour Mill
Julio Bashmore - Au Seve

Ian
Bob Marley - Sun is shining
Shaggy - In the summertime
Morcheeba - The sea
Groove Armada - At the river

Jamie
Beastie Boys - Get it together
Incubus - Are you in?
A Man Called Adam - Easter Song
Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy

Jess
Kungs vs Cookin on 3 burners - This girl
Klingande - Jubel

Kyle
Thievery Corporation - Culture of Fear
Gorgon City - All Four Walls
Dusky - Ingrid Is A Hybrid

Matt
System F - out of the blue
Salt-N-Pepa - Shoop
Arab Strap - The First Big Weekend

Max
KAASI - Those Days
Goldie - Inner City Life
MssingNo - Fones
Archy Marshall - Swell

Mike
The Zombies - Time of the Season
Cream - Sunshine of Your Love
Faithless - I Want More
Queens of the Stone Age - Make it Wit You

Saransh
Coldplay - Adventure of a lifetime
Justin Timberlake - Can’t stop

Steph
Modest Mouse - Dashboard
Pixies - Break My Body
Fleetwood Mac - Seven Wonders
Glass Animals - Gooey
D.I.D - Do The Right
The Bronx - Pleasure Seekers
Wham - Club Tropicana

Will
The Beatles - Here comes the sun
Bob Marley - No woman no cry
Lighthouse family - Lifted
Buena Vista social club - Chan Chan

A-Z of life at RKH | Exhibitions

E is for exhibitions in the A-Z of life at RKH.

From flowers to fashion, automobiles to art, health to home improvement… it seems there’s now an exhibition for everything, everyone and, more importantly, every business.

For many of our clients, attending exhibitions is a great way of networking and engaging with their target market directly. While most businesses attempt to connect with audiences through digital channels, exhibitions provide an opportunity to break down computer screens or shop window barriers and interact with consumers in an open and friendly environment

But, logistically, they can be something of a headache. That's where we come in.

When organising exhibitions, we begin by understanding our client's aims for the event. This might be gaining new contacts, increase brand awareness or simply showcasing a new product or service. Once this has been decided, we start designing the stands and that’s where the real fun begins.

Once the stand requirements are confirmed, our team draw up blueprints and start designing the stand. We've always enjoyed the challenge of producing an inviting, creative and engaging stand that helps clients differentiate themselves from other attendees.

They're extremely intensive to organise (before he began planning exhibitions, our Director, Jamie actually used to have a full head of hair!) However, once they're all set-up, it's a great experience - nothing beats seeing people interact with spaces we've designed and it’s also a great way to build a first impression with a brand.

After organising numerous shows each year, we've learned how to handle the pressure and, for the most part, retain a respectable amount of hair on our heads!

Brett takes the RKH bowling crown

On Tuesday the team headed down to Hollywood Bowl for our first bowling social of the year. With the coveted RKH bowling trophy and a golden bottle of prosecco up for grabs, our competitive sides came out to play and everyone was determined to be crowned the new office champion. 

Reigning champ Kyle got things off to a strong start, convinced the digital team would be hanging on to the trophy. He was soon overtaken though, and before long it was obvious that this was going to be a close-fought game between our top 5 players. 

Will started to take the lead during the second game, with an almost clean streak of strikes and spares. But after a premature victory dance, his over confidence got the better of him and he messed up his final bowl, narrowly losing out to Brett by just 2 points.

Instead of the usual 1st, 2nd and 3rd place we decided to award the remaining prizes to those who came 5th and 10th. After it became clear who was in the running for the top spot, the rest of us resorted to playing tactically in an attempt to score ourselves the chocolates! There were plenty of ‘accidental’ gutter balls thrown and careful calculations, but in the end Kyle and Iain scooped the prizes. 

Huge congratulations to our new champion Brett, until next time! 

Ian and Rick represent RKH at the Cranfield Table Football Championships 2016

Foosball is a serious sport here at RKH, with our table showing the scars of a hotly contested office league.

Having worked with Cranfield Business Recovery for a number of years on design projects and their website, we were invited to take part in the annual Cranfield Table Football Championships. We sent Ian and Rick over to Coventry to represent the team and they did us proud, coming in 2nd place out of 30 teams.

There was a great mix of local businesses represented at the tournament, with teams entering from all over the Midlands. It was so nice to meet lots of new faces, as well as getting to catch up with some more familiar ones. 

The teams had to play 4 matches to qualify from a group, we won 3 and drew 1, before going on to win our quarter and semi-final matches. With each game just 2 minutes long, they were really hard fought and tension was high. After making it through the knockout stages we made it to the final, facing up against Brett and Tony from Cranfield, our toughest opponents yet. Our hit and hope tactics which had proven so effective in earlier rounds, failed this time around and we lost 6-3, placing us 2nd in the competition.

Everyone had a brilliant time, we really enjoyed ourselves and there was a great atmosphere with all of the teams really getting into the spirit of things. Thanks to Cranfield for hosting such a fun afternoon and congratulations on the well deserved win - now how about a rematch? 

Why social video marketing matters and how to do live video right

A cat playing a keyboard? A dog playing the drums?

We’ve all watched videos online, albeit some more educational than others, but how can brands use video on social channels as a marketing tool? 

Many brands are already embracing video as part of their social media marketing strategy and it’s hardly surprising with over 8 billion video views on Facebook daily. It’s predicted that 80% of Internet use will be watching videos by 2019. 

Traditional 30 second television adverts are becoming obsolete in an age of shorter attention spans (well done if you’ve read this far). You have as little as 3 seconds to catch an audience’s attention on Facebook with a video. This means that not only does your video have to be timely and relevant, but it also has to be eye catching and effective, even if the sound is turned off. 

With new formats emerging almost daily, brands are often left scrambling to keep up and work out how to use these channels effectively.

Facebook Live is one such channel. Live video had grown dramatically in popularity over the last couple of months, with other channels such as Periscope and Meerkat also used widely. There are many benefits of using live video, such as being able to share events with a larger audience, humanising the brand and allowing brands to connect to their audiences in a unique way. 

Many household names are already effectively using live video as part of their marketing strategy. Our personal favourites include Buzzfeed’s nail biting live video on trying to explode a watermelon with rubber bands and and Dunkin Donuts giving a live tour of their test kitchen (don’t watch if you’re hungry). 

Live videos shouldn't be treated as a one off gimmick though, but instead considered as an important marketing tool to regularly share knowledge with your online audience.

Here are our top tips for creating effective live video campaigns: 

  • Teach don’t preach. Provide knowledge to the viewer instead of trying to sell. “How to” videos are still within the top searches on Youtube! 
     
  • Shareability is essential to increasing audience size. Think about what will make someone share your video stream.
     
  • Plan out a video amplification strategy: send out to influencers to share, consider timing of live video and boost Facebook posts to increase audience size.
     
  • Repurpose the video for other social channels with a highlights reel.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook page for when we decide to take the leap and try our first live stream.

Leicester City crowned Premier League champions

lcfc-header-w1600.jpg

On the 2nd May the Foxes defied the odds and achieved the impossible, after spending last season looking at almost certain relegation, they went on to win the Premier League for the first time in the club’s 132 year history.

Leicester started the season as 5000/1 outsiders, with them taking the title considered less likely than Arsenal sacking Arsene Wenger and installing Piers Morgan as boss at 2500/1 and Jose Mourinho quitting Chelsea to go on I'm A Celebrity at 1000/1.

Here at RKH we are, for the most part, pretty football mad and have more than our fair share of die hard Foxes fans. So of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do something special to show support for our home team.

For #BackingTheBlues day we got everyone to come into work wearing something blue and had a huge banner printed to hang outside of our office, but not before taking some team photos with it first! We also gave ourselves a makeover, kitting our avatars out in Leicester City shirts and switching out our RKH yellow for LCFC blue across our website and social media channels. It went down really well and proved to be a real talking point.

On Monday we continued the celebrations and headed out to cheer our champions on at the open top bus parade through the city. The atmosphere was electric and it was wonderful to see the entire city come together to celebrate our team's achievement.

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Here’s what the historic win meant to some of the biggest fans in the office :

David

This season has been so far beyond what I ever thought was possible that it still feels unreal. The team has won well and deservedly, with a manager who has surprised everyone with his skill and also his humour and intelligence. I've really loved how it's brought all parts of the city together with a common cause and how Leicester has suddenly captured international attention. Dilly ding dilly dong.”

Jamie

“It's hard to put it into words. There's been some hard times since the O'Neill years and this goes so far beyond making them worthwhile. The 5000-1 tag keeps getting repeated, but it shows how unlikely this was to happen. There really hasn't ever been a story to rival it in sport and probably never will be again. And to witness it in our lifetimes and for it to happen to our club is incredible. If you put a whole life's worth of Christmas's together that wouldn't even get close to how happy it has made me.”

Ian

“Looking back, the season looks more like a Hollywood script than real life. The names of the players, who were cast aside and deemed not good enough by other teams, will remain on the lips of Leicester fans for years to come. It’s been incredible to witness and hopefully will lead to a realisation that success in sport needn’t necessarily be preceded by huge amounts of money. I really hope next season doesn’t see the normality of Leicester struggling but the truth is that after this season it doesn’t matter. My wife is glad the season is over… I can’t wait to get hold of the season review DVD to watch it again and again. Maybe after several watches through it’ll start to feel real.”

Virtual reality to become reality

Watching people use the virtual reality booth at the old Beatties store in Leicester as a child, I was amazed by what technology could do and what would come next. The potential to experience different worlds was mind blowing and seemed incredibly futuristic. Despite rapid advances in technology, virtual reality has remained part of science fiction films such as Tron and The Matrix, rather than a feature of everyday life. 

Having attended the IPA’s review of SXSW Interactive 2016 and purchased a basic viewer, it’s clear that virtual reality is set to become much more common very soon.

Ranging from the cheap Google Cardboard (£10 to make your smartphone into a very basic VR device) to the much more expensive HTC Vive (several thousand pounds when combined with a high power PC, for an immersive VR experience focused at gamers), there are a variety of options for people to experience virtual reality at home. The more basic implementations aren’t perfect but their accessibility gives a glimpse at what will be possible.

Don’t think it’s just for kids (and grown up kids) who love games though. Whilst the gaming industry is the biggest and most visible driver of virtual reality technology, there are numerous other applications for the technology appearing all the time. Here are some great examples to check out virtual reality with your viewer:

Google Cardboard
Simple demos from Google that help show some of what is possible using the basic virtual reality viewers designed to work with a smartphone.

Guardian 6 x 9
This moving example shows what it’s like to experience solitary confinement in an American prison. This use of virtual reality builds empathy, allowing the Guardian to make their point much more strongly and build support for their campaign.

VRSE
An app with several beautiful and moving 360 degree videos. It’s hard to pick as there are so many fantastic videos but be sure to check out The United Nation’s “Clouds over Sidra” and The Click Effect.

Watch the videos mentioned above and you’ll appreciate how virtual reality leads to far more powerful feelings than when viewed in a different format. Being able to bestow such profound feelings on a viewer is something to be taken seriously though. Whilst some of the examples shown above build empathy with the viewer to make an important point, people can easily be terrified by scary experiences too. To help developers produce apps with content that doesn’t go too far or give viewers motion sickness, Oculus (creators of the Oculus Rift, another very popular virtual reality device and now owned by Facebook) have drawn up basic virtual reality guidelines.

Virtual reality offers huge potential but striking the right note and not relying on gimmicks will be key to successful implementation. Undoubtedly virtual reality is very cool and very exciting, but be warned, it’s not possible to look cool spinning around on the spot, whilst grinning with a cardboard box attached to your head.