On 23 November, leading members of the business community across Milton Keynes gathered at the city headquarters of technology company Aiimi for the second edition of Picture This.
What is Picture This?
The Picture This concept has been developed by a trio of agencies within Milton Keynes; Stratos – a brand and creative agency, Wirebox – a technical development agency and ourselves at Interdirect – a PR and digital comms agency.
It is a platform for people, our peers, friends, and partners to get together to discuss key themes and industry touchpoints crafted by that very audience. There’s no ‘hard sell’ – just an honest approach to thought-leadership which is fundamental to the Picture This ethos.
This second edition of Picture This focused on Artificial Intelligence. A hot topic considering Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes had just hosted the Global AI Safety-Summit; a huge stage for International Governments, leading AI companies and experts in research to come together to discuss and understand how to grip and tackle any potential AI risks to ensure it develops safely in the years ahead.
The aim for Picture This was to give a slightly different take on the sometimes controversial subject of artificial intelligence, from attempting to demystify the subject to looking at how the technology can help and enhance working practices.
What went down?
The event featured three industry specific speakers giving their own thoughts across a number of AI related topics including content creation, emerging tech and more.
Phil Hill from West Herts College talked about how generative AI is disrupting his field within photography. He talked about the historical upheaval when photography overtook painting as a mainstream medium, how he’s been using AI in teaching, particularly focusing on the many ways they cross over through critical thinking. Phil has also used AI to restore images from the past and he touched upon the bias in generative AI due to the fact it is largely used within the Western World.
The second speaker of the evening was Matt Eustace from Aiimi who talked about using AI tech as a problem-solving tool, and how having access to data via AI sources can help businesses make more informed decisions. He also talked at length about Extractive AI – the lesser-known cousin of the more popular Generative AI.
Designer, Matthew Maxwell, shared how he has been inspired by Shakespeare and used DALL.E to create artwork which blended modern day with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He also went on to talk about using AI to have fun within his art.
A Q&A session wrapped up the event and was hosted by our own MD, Nicholas Mann, who opened the room to encourage attendees to get involved in the conversation. Igniting a forthright debate, insightful questions were put to all three speakers, and all provided valuable input, incorporating various approaches and points within their answers.
The third edition of Picture This will be coming in early 2024 with an all-new topic to discuss and digest. Look out for more information coming soon.
On Monday 16 October, World Food Day, some of the team from Interdirect headed to Campbell Park to support long-standing client Socius unload over 250 food cans from the back of a car. Why? It was all part of a Guinness World Record breaking attempt by the MK Food Bank.
The local charity, setup in 2004, has seen an unprecedented rise in demand over the last 12 months, and in an effort to increase their food stocks and to raise awareness of the amazing work they do across the city for families and individuals, they organised #MKCAN. An audacious attempt to smash the current Guinness World Record for the longest line of food cans.
Local businesses were encouraged to sign up and ‘adopt’ a section of the planned 10km route around Campbell Park, which sits in the very heart of Milton Keynes. Socius, who are currently, redeveloping the Saxon Court building in Central Milton Keynes as part of the planned MK Gateway development, took up the challenge with members of their team heading to MK from around the country, and two members of the ID team went along to support.
Each business or organisation adopted one of the 400 sections, each donating over 250 cans to ‘complete’ their section. After a long morning of measuring, counting and adjudicating – the result was finally announced at 2.30pm with the MK Food Bank officially being awarded the Guinness World Record with over 102,000 food cans being lined up.
It was a herculean effort from the local community with the donated cans shoring up the organisation’s stocks for the next 6 months, and one which our team was proud to be part of.
If you’d like to find out more about the MK Food Bank – go to https://mkfoodbank.org.uk/
Exciting rebrand for one of Milton Keynes’ most well-established agencies will bring the next level of PR, communications, and digital proposition to the city.
Interdirect is strengthening its proposition and rebranding as part of an ambitious growth plan as the business approaches its fourth decade in business.
Along with a fresh new brand identity, Interdirect has promoted some of the key figures within its business to create a new leadership team and enhanced its offering by collaborating with trusted partners, who specialise in brand and creative marketing disciplines, complementing Interdirect’s offering.
This new approach is already delivering significant added value to existing clients, creating new opportunities for all involved.
Founded in 1995 by Nicholas Mann, Interdirect has been offering its clients invaluable service from PR and Communications to digital solutions and marketing, with a proactive, customer-centric approach that delivers successful campaigns and projects to brands across all sectors.
With a progressive attitude and appetite for innovation, Interdirect has a breadth of industry knowledge; it is renowned throughout the Milton Keynes business community and has a credible and valuable portfolio of long-standing clients, that it cherishes.
The new wave of Interdirect is being underpinned by a fresh rebrand and website which was launched this week. The distinct look clearly depicts Interdirect’s brand narrative, and the familiar fingerprint logo is being superseded by speech marks to symbolise the clarity the agency provides on digital communications.
Collectively, the agency’s team offers more than 140 years of expertise, and it is this experience that underpins Interdirect’s people-first, values-based culture that pulsates throughout the business.
Katie Jenkins, newly appointed Client Director, has 13-years-experience with the agency and is ready to help realise a new vision for the future of Interdirect.
“We’re a forward-thinking agency and this new brand and direction – taking more of a partnership approach – will allow us to offer brands a stronger proposition. This is thanks to the valuable knowledge that our team and our trusted partners offer to every project. We’re excited to see where the future takes us.”
Milton Keynes has long been thought of as a home of innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurial savvy. So it was no surprise that a recent Picture This event included all three.
Held at the Sky Room at Milton Keynes Gallery, the event was the first of its kind in the city and came about through a collaboration between three city based agencies – Interdirect, Stratos and Wirebox.
An ideas event, it took visitors through the journey of producing a creative project and featured thought-provoking, expert speakers covering topics including Creative and Brand, Content and Film, Marketing, and PR and Online Comms.
The informal, social event attracted a number of like-minded individuals who all shared a passion for marketing, creativity and digital disciplines and the speakers balanced each other perfectly. It worked to give the audience a flavour of how collaboration can work perfectly and how integrating parts of each discipline into a business can help you push the boundaries and connect better with your customers.
The evening started with a talk on Creative & Brand from Stratos’ Marc Smiddy and Ryan Taylor from Wirebox. Marc started the evening off with an interesting talk on brand emotion – the importance of a brand creating a connection with its audience – which included a thought-provoking video about sportswear giants Nike (Have you ever seen Nike sell you their products by telling you anything other than how you’ll feel wearing them?) This was followed by a more technical discussion from Ryan who delved more into the ‘why’ of what a brand offers its customers.
Mat Finch, from Caffeine & Machine, then told the audience about the importance of clear and concise marketing strategies before Laura Alfred from Network Rail and Interdirect’s own Emma Scott gave an incredible insight into PR &Communications and the role of the leader in creating a brand consistency in vision.
The final speaker was Alex Lawrence from Clearhead, who spoke fantastically on the topic of producing content with a purpose that helps to tell a compelling story. The point of the evening was to show that individually, done well, these elements can drive a business forward but actually, we need to collaborate with others to be able to offer clients the ‘full package.’
It’s interesting to see how attitudes are changing in this space and how nowadays businesses aren’t seen as rivals but actually, fellow professionals that can be learned from and collaborated with. And actually, it’s OK not to be great at everything, as your specialism may be someone else’s weak point.
Interdirect is proud to announce that it will be working collaboratively with Stratos and Wirebox moving forwards and in the process offering customers a more complete business solution.
As for Picture This we’ll be eagerly awaiting the next instalment of this unique thought leadership event and hope that anyone reading this will be intrigued enough to sign up in the future.
Despite joining our team in the middle of the Covid lockdown, one member of Interdirect hasn’t slowed down, in fact, a global pandemic seems to have spurred her on as she keeps dancing, eating delicious food and travelling all over the world.
Kemi Sangowawa has studied music as well as having a degree in architecture and a dream of being an interior designer (her fabulous clothes are a testament to this talent!) On top of that, she also has a master’s degree in design studies with marketing.
Right now, Kemi is one of our top account managers, but she’s had not only a full career history but a fascinating life journey to this point too. Kemi said:
“I have a somewhat mismatched career history, as I’ve worked both in-house and on the agency side. In my last two roles, I worked on everything from branding and creative to tone of voice and individual marketing.”
Kemi has worked in a host of different industries too and boasts African brands, banks, NGOs, and fashion as well as pet brands, food and drink and wineries in her impressive portfolio. She said:
“I don’t specialise in a particular area. I know what I want to do and that’s a lot of different things – that’s what attracted me to Interdirect; the variation.”
During her time with us, Kemi has already worked with some fantastic local businesses including The Parks Trust and Whittlebury Hall, and as brilliant a job as she’s doing, she admitted it was hard working remotely and missed not getting to sit down with a cup of tea with her friends and co-workers.
“One of my favourite things about a job is getting to know the people. Going over to someone’s desk with a biscuit (and a request for some work.)” Kemi said.
“I love actually meeting with people face to face because that’s what gets results and helps me to understand things. I love sitting around a table discussing ideas, and it’s been good to get out and start doing that with the team.”
Now the world is back open again our fabulous foodie is looking to explore even more of the world. Already, she’s been to a host of amazing and fascinating countries, including her personal favourite – Cuba. She said:
“I’m not a fake foodie. I love cooking and actually creating dishes rather than just going to a restaurant and eating it.”
“The food in Cuba was amazing. The whole country was the same, the sun, the sea the people”
“I’m from West Africa, I’m half Nigerian and half Ivorian, and I went to Mozambique – a part of Africa I’d never been to, and the food there was amazing too.”
In the future, Kemi’s got big plans to see even more of the world, with her dream locations being Japan, Brazil, and Argentina. She said:
“I was supposed to go to Japan in 2020, but Covid ruined that plan, so I’ll definitely get there eventually. The mix of tradition and technology is incredible.”
“In Brazil, the migrations of different cultures are fascinating, plus the Latin and African dancing I love is part of their day-to-day.”
Already, we’re painting a picture of someone who’s incredibly interesting, right? Someone you’d love to have a cup of tea (and biscuit!) with in the office, but that’s not all.
When asked what her superpower would be she said she’d want to travel back in time – but with no consequences, of course.
In the here and now, if you want a cuppa with Kemi then make sure you set aside some time because she’s sure got a story to tell.
As a leading communications and digital solutions agency, we have carried out several security upgrades for our clients to ensure that their websites are as safe as possible, due to the increased risk of potential threats.
In response to most ‘attack bots’ attempting malicious logins to a website’s Content Management System (CMS), coming from overseas – including the US, China, and Russia – our Dev Team has upgraded CMS security to enable our clients to filter which countries can login. Limiting the IP addresses to specific countries is a simple, yet effective, countermeasure to attempted attacks,
Additionally, the team has added Two Factor Authentication (2FA) to the CMS login, which provides an added layer of verification to further ensure the authenticity of a user’s login.
“Bot attacks and login attempts can happen at any point during a website’s life, though it might not be happening to them now, it can very easily happen in the future. To help secure the CMS from these attacks, we’re adding extra layer of security and verification, making it harder for these attacks to gain access to the CMS.
For some time now, all new websites that we develop have had these security measures, but, due to the increased risk of attack, retrospectively, we have decided to add them to our client’s ‘legacy’ websites.”
Project Manager, Bradley Spillman
Our clients have responded positively to the changes, agreeing that the security recommendations suggested were necessary to maintain the safety of their websites.
“The security of our clients and their data is of the utmost importance to us, so I’m delighted that our initiative has been so well received by our clients. It’s what we live for! A huge well done to our hard-working team for not only making the changes but for getting across the importance of these updates to our clients.”
Nicholas Mann, Managing Director of Interdirect
For further information about our communications and digital services follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram @Interdirect
As one of the biggest business events of the year, the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards (MKBAA) is one of those that stands out on the city’s calendar.
It’s a night when the best and brightest businesses in MK get to show off just how good they are at what they do, by winning awards that propel them into their deserved spotlight.
But few people realise that way before the glitz and glamour happens there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes – and that’s where Interdirect’s Kemi Sangowawa takes centre stage.
“The planning, in theory, starts the week after the previous event.” Said Kemi, “This is my first year working on MKBAA and so far, it’s been an incredibly enjoyable project to work on. It encompasses a lot of the skills I’ve built up throughout my career.”
2022’s event proved to be a roaring success. The first one back in person since COVID-19 destroyed the hopes of people meeting up in large groups, the night celebrated a diverse range of businesses, a theme that has been carried over into this year.
Celebrating Diversity is an important theme and organisers are keen to do exactly that, with a huge and diverse range of businesses expected to follow in the footsteps of previous winners.
So, after the wash-up meeting from last year’s event the theme is discussed and agreed before the branding is finalised (a whole project in itself). Once this is agreed, Kemi is back in the mix, and it’s time to build the website.
Kemi explains: “Once the branding was finalised, I spoke to designers who helped explore what Celebrating Diversity meant. From there we built and agreed a tone of voice, photography, and developed the different uses of colour.”
One look at the website shows you just how much work has gone into it – especially when you consider that it was built completely from scratch.
The thought process was that the team wanted the website to be easier to navigate, providing all visitors (including applicants, judges, and the general public) with everything they need to submit their entries, read about past winners and log-in to make important judging decisions.
The website provides a one-stop shop that includes everything from separate entry and judging portals, as well as a media gallery, news page, blogs, theme information and a look at the different sponsors. On top of this there is also a countdown that has changed from when entries closed to now when the event will be held.
Kemi added: “We’re happy to have received much fewer questions this year, meaning that people are finding it easy to navigate, and simple to do what they need to via the website.
“When people are asking lots of questions or finding it hard to find what they need, that’s when you need to worry.”
There have been some changes made to this year’s event, to make it more accessible and fairer for all. One of the biggest changes, aside from the new website, is the rule that if you’ve won an award in a category the previous year, you can’t enter that category again this time around.
We asked Kemi when she will get to relax. “On the night, definitely on the night.” She said, “The entries have now closed, the judges will have some time to make an initial decision and then people will find out whether they’ve been successful in getting through to the next stage. Then it’s full steam ahead for the judging day next year. It’s all very exciting, and this is a great project to be involved in.”
If you’re not entering this year, then why not? But if you are, from all at Interdirect, we wish you the very best of luck. At least you won’t need luck navigating the website!
Digital trendsetters, Interdirect, have successfully delivered two new stylish websites for Braehead and Derbion shopping centres, despite the branding for both retail sites being unknown during development.
The team tapped into Interdirect’s 27 years of digital experience to design and build websites for Braehead and Derbion shopping centres, which are both visually striking and easy to navigate. The result – two websites with their own unique identity that show off each centre as an engaging and exciting destination.
The impressive nature of these builds hinged on the team’s ability to work in an agile way, with both shopping centres navigating a change in ownership and brand redesigns during the development of their digital platforms.
Taking a logical approach, the team built two, functionally capable sites – but in black and white. Then, when the centres were rebranded, Interdirect’s digital experts were able to skin the sites to add in stunning visuals to suit their new looks. Interdirect continues to work on each site, to give visitors an experience like no other, with regular updates and fixes.
“It’s this level of detail and forward-thinking that makes Interdirect one of the digital leaders in shopping centre and retail websites. I’m proud of the team for always putting the customer first in all decision-making and for being reactive to the changing economic situation.
“Our team has vast experience working with shopping centres and tapping into our knowledge of new and emerging technologies to provide the most reliable and accessible digital experience.”
Managing director at Interdirect, Nicholas Mann
“Building our website, Interdirect showed not only the utmost professionalism and patience, but also fantastic forward thinking. They have given our stunning shopping centre an amazing digital platform that will entice people to visit and get an experience like no other.
“We’re proud of the work that’s been done, and we hope our customers appreciate the hard work that’s gone into it too.”
Mark Musgrove, Digital Marketing Manager at Derbion Shopping Centre
Thanks to Interdirect’s digital team, supporters of Willen Hospice can now purchase lottery tickets, scratch cards, wedding favours and gifts through an easy-to-use online platform, making it even simpler to fundraise for the much-loved MK charity.
The hospice provides patients with second to none palliative care and relies on the generosity of the general public to help raise millions of pounds each year to pay for their running costs. One way that people can easily raise money and awareness is by buying Willen Hospice lottery tickets and scratch cards, which can be used as gifts, wedding favours and so much more.
With more than 25 years of experience in digital marketing, Interdirect upgraded the current system to make it more vibrant and provide customers with an intuitive journey that was easier for the hospice to edit, including the ability to change the images on wedding favours. Interdirect also introduced new options for their seasonal draw, so everything can be controlled in one place.
Currently, tickets can be purchased on a pay-as-you-go or subscription service before results are then posted online. One of the newer updates to the site, provided by Interdirect, shows a sliding scale to help convert people to subscription sales, by showing them how many bonus entries they will receive when they do.
Willen Hospice has been at the heart of the community for 40 years, providing incredible support and care to around 300 patients with life-limiting illnesses every day. It needs to raise £9 every minute of the year, close to £5 million, to keep providing that service, so this upgrade provides a vital tool, helping more people to navigate exactly where they need to go to have some fun, while still supporting a worthwhile local charity.
Nigel Birch, Commercial Manager at Willen Hospice, said: “We’ve worked with Interdirect for a number of years and we’re always grateful for the work they do for us. These newest upgrades to our lottery site will encourage more people to subscribe to our service and help us to raise much needed funds for the hospice.”
Nicholas Mann, Managing Director at Interdirect, said: “We could not be prouder to work with and show our support for Willen Hospice. Our community relies on their specialist and dignified work to offer people, and their loved ones, support and love in their final days.
“We hope the improvements and additions to the site provide an increase in sales, so that Willen Hospice can continue to provide patients and their families with calm, compassionate care in a tranquil environment, helping people to really make the most of the time they have left with their loved ones.”
Celebrating 15 years of Cenex-LCV, the organisers of the leading industry event, which is co-located with Cenex-CAM, has appointed marketing agency, Interdirect to manage its PR and social media.
The event is held at UTAC Millbrook, which Interdirect has supported since 2012, including managing the communications for a biennial DVD event, delivered at the vehicle test and validation site on behalf of the MOD and Defence Equipment & Support.
The 15th anniversary marks a milestone for Cenex-LCV, while co-located Cenex-CAM reaches its 4th birthday. 2022 will also see the return of international delegates for face-to-face meetings, for the first time since 2019, which has proved a major draw for exhibitors.
As the UK’s longest established technology showcase and networking event for the low carbon vehicle community, Cenex-LCV provides a strategic platform for agenda setting for key technical, policy and infrastructure initiatives. The focus of the low carbon vehicle community is on the targets, commencing from 2030, that are accelerating the shift to electric mobility for vehicles of all types across international markets. This year, the two-day event will focus on the low carbon vehicle Transition to Net Zero and how innovation is shaping the future for Automated Connected Electric and Shared Mobility (ACES).
Interdirect is working with Cenex and its supporting partners to secure long-term media partnerships, to promote the innovative technologies and insights from exhibitors and speakers and to create new and exciting opportunities within the press, broadcast and social media, Olivia Smith, Events and Marketing Manager at Cenex explains:
“Our role as event organisers is to work with our supporting partners and innovation community to ensure the Cenex-event retains its leadership position, promoting the automotive and associated energy infrastructure transition to Net Zero via an Automated Electric Connected and Shared (ACES) future of mobility. We do this through technology showcasing and networking for exhibitors, speakers and delegates.
“We selected Interdirect to support us based on their appreciation of our aims, their understanding of our event through prior work with exhibitors at past Cenex-events and their forward-thinking approach.”
Emma Scott, Senior PR Manager at Interdirect says:
“We’re excited to have been appointed by Cenex to support the communications priorities for LCV and CAM. Having worked with UTAC Millbrook on a number of events and activities over the past 10 years, we have a good understanding of the requirements and we’re working with partners, exhibitors and media partners to ensure we maximise all opportunities pre, during and post the event.”
For further information about Cenex-LCV and Cenex-CAM visit https://www.cenex-lcv.co.uk/ or follow @lcv_event and if you’d like to talk to us about how we can support you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org