Archive for the ‘PR’ Category
The latest batch of Lord Sugar’s wannabe protégés are at the wrong end of his acerbic putdowns in the latest series of The Apprentice. Three candidates have already got the boot from the show, and what’s interesting is that two of the candidates are under 25. When it came to the analysis of why one of the contestants was fired, she said in her interview that she didn’t want to come across as pushy due to her inexperience. However, one of Lord Sugar’s aides replied:
“One can be almost in awe of others or not wanting to be pushy, that you go so far the other way that you disappear.”
This is something I empathised with, being in my current role, at my first PR agency. Youth can be such an issue in these cases: straight out of university, in a first job, unsure. As a young person in a business environment, how can one be heard when it feels like everyone else is shouting? Well, I’ve pulled together my top three tips:
1. Do give your input – constantly
Don’t be afraid of your ideas. Very often when you start out, you think that others know so much more due to their experience. While experience is important, a fresh take on things is valued, and very often a new mind thinks about things from a different and creative perspective. Think of it like this: people who have been in the job for a while may be using a telescope when looking at new ideas, but a fresh young outlook can enable everyone to look at things through a colourful kaleidoscope!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
PR is a tough job that requires bags of creativity, intelligence and ability to understand difficult concepts. In essence if you’ve made it into the industry, congratulations, you’re very clever. However you won’t know everything immediately. Many young starters have come straight from university where they were used to being academically good at everything and it can be a bit distressing to suddenly be making mistakes and not understanding certain topics. Don’t be afraid – you’re here to learn and progress and those above you are only too happy to help.
3. Do enjoy it
In some ways, this is the most important tip of all. Remember that this is hopefully the start of a long and illustrious career, and in order to do that, you need the motivation. What better incentive is there for coming in every day than knowing you enjoy the work that you do and the results that you get? Believe me, your colleagues will notice.
It takes time to get used to a new role. It’s never usually about a lack of ability that makes a young person unsure, it tends to be a lack of experience. You can make sure your voice is heard among the big players if you follow these tips.
Tags: PR, young professionals
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Attempting to hijack a current news story is as old as the PR profession itself, and even though we’re in an age of social media, the skills required are still similar.
But while a well-placed story or stunt that ties into another item dominating the news agenda can earn a lot of online and offline coverage for a brand, an ill thought through newsjack – or Twitterjack, if you will - can harm your reputation faster than you can issue a retraction.
To help ensure you’re more likely be remembered for a creative campaign than a viral fail, here’s Ruder Finn’s top five rules for ensuring your Twitterjack stands a good chance of catching the internet’s attention.
1. Plan when you can
It’s far easier to plan great content when you know what’s coming up in advance, and any good PR desk will have a calendar with all major upcoming events and opportunities around these.
Twitter is no different. If you know an event’s coming up, you can at least have some ideas and images planned. It also means you’re in a better position to react quickly to any news surrounding the event.
Dulux are a good example of how a brand can leverage extra coverage from an event. Their Tweet on the evening of the BRIT Awards comparing Damien Hirst’s statue design with their colour palette was simple and clever.
2. Make it funny
140 characters are particularly effective for pithy punning and a well-crafted piece of humour that can tie your brand into a current event is always likely to gain traction on social media. What’s more, it shows your Twitter feed and company is run by people with a sense of humour.
Nando’s were particularly good at exploiting news of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, with a Tweet announcing at Manchester branches would stay open for an extra five minute - a reference to the amount of added time the club generally receive at the end of a game.
A word of warning though – unfunny or tasteless jokes won’t do you any favours. Virtual tumbleweed moves much faster than the real thing.
3. Be ready to react quickly
As with so many areas of communications, if you’re first, (and not forgetting if you’re good), you’ll probably be the brand that manages to get a fair bit of traction.
It’s why it’s important that the people responsible for your creative or social are plugged into wider events surrounding Twitter, not just your industry. It means they can react quickly to anything breaking.
Again, to take an example from Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Golden Wonder quickly photoshopped a special bag of Fergie-flavoured crisps. It probably wasn’t the best effort on the day, but it was the first and gained those all important retweets and reach.
4. Make it visual
Two of the three examples already cited worked well because they were very visual in nature and highly shareable.
Whether it’s as simple as whipping up a quick lolcat or spending time photoshopping something a little more sophisticated, keeping it visual makes your Tweet stand out and increases the chances of virality.
It’s why US processed meat company Oscar Mayer’s Oscar-night Twitterjack worked so well. Posted after Adele scooped best song for Skyfall, their cheeky Tweet wouldn’t have made as much impact in text only – and it’s a clever comms team who can connect James Bond and bacon.
5. Avoid tragedies
Twitter really comes into its own during breaking news or times of disaster and, with so many eyeballs, it’s tempting for brands to try and muscle in on whatever happens to be dominating the news agenda that day.
However, unless it’s offering a message of condolence or is incredibly well thought through and sensitive, it’s probably best to stay away from promoting your wares on Twitter during this period.
Whether it’s Gap encouraging those affected by Hurricane Sandy to shop from the comfort of their homes, or Celeb Boutique’s attempt to tap into the Aurora shootings by promoting their Kim Kardashian Aurora dress, an insensitive Tweet can do more harm than good. What’s more, many of the tech and social blogs are likely to pick up on this, and we all know how good they are at SEO….
Recently McDonalds faced criticism for a Tweet around the Ohio kidnappings, saluting rescuer Charles Ramsey after he mentioned he was eating a McDonalds before he went to the aid of the kidnapped women.
The Tweet has divided opinion, with some viewing it as smart and others criticising the company for being insensitive, even if that wasn’t the company’s intention. Given the potential for a backlash, it’s probably best to give the bad news stories a miss.
6. And one bonus piece of advice… check your scheduled Tweets
Just as your social media team should be looking for opportunities to make the most of breaking news, they also need to be able to be aware of any risks pre-written Tweets may contain.
With many brands often choosing to schedule their Tweets throughout the day, an innocent remark can take on a very different meaning following a tragic event.
It’s obviously not the brand or PR agency’s fault – they have no way of predicting how 140 characters can go from irreverent to offensive in the space of a few minutes – but Twitter users may not be so understanding.
If bad news does break, it’s worth checking your scheduled Tweet queue and checking if there’s anything lined up that could cause problems. Ten minutes work can save you from dealing with a mini-crisis a few hours later.
The Daily Mirror apologised for a pre-scheduled Tweet that read, “Keep on running: David Luiz urges Chelsea marathon men to drag themselves over the finish line,” that was published on the day of the Boston bombings. Entirely innocent, but unfortunate timing.
Any more we’ve left off? Share your tips in the comments below.
Tags: newsjacking, PR, social media, Twitter
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AllFacebook has published recent news announcing the formation of Facebook’s new UK advisory board which is “aimed at strengthening the relationships between brands and agencies in the U.K. and the social network.” The board consists of the great and good of some of the UK’s largest companies and media buying agencies.
The Facebook Studio blog details the rationale for setting up the board which includes being “in constant contact with our industry partners, listening to their needs, and working together to help make their marketing efforts on Facebook more effective and efficient.”
The formation of the advisory board illustrates the importance Facebook places on maintaining good relationships with some of its most valued customers. However, one can’t help but think that it has given little-to-no consideration about the rest of us who use the Facebook platform for commercial reasons. Why is there no PR representation? Why is there no small business representation? NGOs? Charity? I could go on.
While undoubtedly a smart move for those involved and indeed it may stand to benefit the rest of us 99% eventually, the formation of the advisory group doesn’t align with Facebook’s democratic and non-hierarchical principals from which it was built on.
In other words, if you aren’t a large brand or media buying agency you don’t get a say.
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One recurring social media joke is that Google Plus is always one of the trending topics on Google Plus because it’s all anybody talks about on the platform. But scratch below the surface and this network – once derided as a ghost town – is developing a strong group of engaged communities. What’s more, the nature of these communities should make PR professionals sit up and take notice.
One of the fastest growing sectors on Google Plus is football, with many Premier League clubs setting up G+ presences. Manchester City regularly post news roundups, Fulham take advantage of the very visual nature of the network by making their updates quite image heavy, while Arsenal regularly hold fan Hangouts. What’s more, engagement and growth are steady.
The numbers are impressive too. Tottenham Hotspur, for example, have 61,731 followers at the time of writing. North London rivals Arsenal have even more – 243,400 to be precise, and Liverpool over a million. Even soon-to-be-relegated QPR have 7,000 users circling them. Engagement on the pages is good as well, with a healthy number of +1s, shares and comments.
Interestingly, the world’s biggest club, Manchester United, don’t yet have an official presence on Google Plus, but there is an official DHL Manchester United page, where their training kit sponsor takes full advantage of their access at the club.
Another group thriving on Google Plus is parent bloggers, both as individuals and networks. Many bloggers have both an official page for their and a personal profile, with a solid level of followers, while networks make full use of G+’s features. Britmums, for example, regularly broadcast their Google Plus Hangouts, often with celebrity guests, to their 57,997 followers.
Elsewhere other communities flourish, and PR should take note of this. Not just because of the opportunities for tapping into said communities, but because these groups show every intention of making Google Plus a significant part of their lives.
And these are not your standard early digital adopters who’ll leap upon any new network. These are normal people engaging in specialised and mainstream interests. Where they go, friends, families and other communities will follow.
Both parents and sports fans have tended to be early adopters, of sorts, using forums and Twitter long before these mediums achieved the wide-scale usage we see today. Yet both have found G+ neatly fits in with the way they communicate.
For football, this is a very top-down driven growth. Those clubs who’ve invested in the platform have realised they can offer richer content and a deeper level of communication and engagement than, say, Twitter. And the fans, obsessive for content around their club, naturally sign up. The followers Arsenal or Liverpool have are not what you’d typically describe as standard digital adopters.
It’s a model brands with rich, engaging content and a devoted fanbase may want to study closely. A well-placed campaign on the network – such as those run by Cadbury – can pay dividends in building a long-term engaged follower base.
For parents, Google Plus is a lot easier and friendlier to build communities. It offers the chance for greater discussion and even a degree of privacy than, say, Twitter and is far less restrictive than Facebook. And ultimately, it benefits the bloggers in the long-term from a search perspective, not to mention encouraging them to familiarise themselves with Google’s array of tools. Many mums are probably more of an expert on Google Hangouts and rel=author than large swathes of PR professionals.
What’s key for PR to realise here as well is that not only are significantly large communities adopting Google Plus, they’re also using the platform in very different ways, often within the community itself.
With Google+ it’s not just enough to throw together a page with a selection of apps, like Facebook or jump on a trending topic. Success is unlikely to yield instant results either.
But those PRs and brands who invest time in understanding the community and who are prepared to engage at a deeper level than before could find themselves benefitting when other groups, tempted over after seeing what their football loving and new parent friends are doing, decide to join up and develop their own communities. Working with Google’s tools is often a long-term process. Google Plus is no different.
Tags: Google Plus, parent bloggers, sport
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What would you think of if I said the phrase ‘public relations’ to you?
Those of us in communications industries will be more familiar with what public relations entails, but there is still a huge misconception of PR. I recently asked a few people what they thought of when I said PR and the answers ranged from ‘press conferences’ to ‘defending or promoting companies’. Although I could see where they were coming from, these associations were somewhat peripheral. I feel like I’ve been easing into my role quite well and feel knowledgeable enough to debunk a few of these myths.
PR is about writing and pushing press releases
There is some press release writing that happens in PR of course, but it isn’t the be all and end all of the job description. Producing reports, writing articles, and bringing a sound business mind and strategic way of thinking are just some of the responsibilities that fall into a PR pro’s lap.
PR is all about wining, dining and endless parties
This must be one of the most common preconceptions about public relations. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m early in my career, but I wouldn’t describe public relations as über glamorous. The day is not strictly nine to five, you can find yourself taking work home, and more often than not, you’ll be updating a tracker rather than eating truffles and quaffing champagne with VIPs. Although, there are still a few perks!
PR is like ‘propaganda’ for businesses
Believe it or not, I actually heard this once. Considering propaganda can be a dangerous thing, this isn’t the most accurate comparison. PR professionals do not propagate biased information to mislead people. They essentially want to communicate and tell a story. If somebody is willing to listen, then we’ve done our job.
Tags: PR myths, Press releases, public relations
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With 343m active users, Google+ is a social network that’s growing both in influence and the number of influencers using it.
When it comes to PR, though, the temptation may be to just concentrate on the search and pay-per-click aspects of Google rather than developing a long-term strategy for their social network, but it would be a mistake to view G+ as unimportant compared to Facebook and Twitter.
There is now a core, engaged community on Google+, with much richer possibilities for deeper conversation and, with it, a more joined-up approach for spreading your message across the web.
If you’re yet to properly play around with Google+ or have an account but aren’t sure what to do with it, here’s Ruder Finn’s guide to everything you need to know about the network.
1. Building a brand using pages
One of the great examples of a G+ success is Cadbury. The confectioner has embraced the social network with gusto and, at the time of writing, has over 2.85m followers, which is vastly more than their 127,000 Twitter followers and over a million more Likes than their Dairy Milk Facebook page has received.
This growth didn’t happen by chance – Cadbury have used G+ to launch new products and PR campaigns and, in particular, have made strong use of the heavily visual nature of G+, regularly posting tempting pictures of chocolate.
Another advantage for any brand is it gives those manning the page – be it community managers or the PR agency – the opportunity to add all followers of a page to separate circles (to put it crudely, think of these a little bit like dividing every follower into a distribution list). This means you can target your updates to reach the most relevant people.
2. Community building
Where there’s a niche, there’s a community and nowhere is this truer than on Google+, which launched the community feature towards the end of last year. Anybody can create a community and even those with a small membership are highly engaged, regularly sharing links, ideas and more.
Cadburys have 18,730 members of their cakes and baking G+ community, while there’s a community for everything from London nightlife through to sports writing and, of course, Digital PR.
3. Keeping it local Google+ Local may not be one of the most promoted aspects of the network but it’s certainly among the most powerful. Do a search for almost any business and chances are their G+ local page will show up on the right hand side, complete with reviews – with those from people you know prioritised.
Think of it as a more souped-up version of Trip Advisor that includes almost everything that has a physical location. Then think of how powerful a tool this can be for PR – both positive and negative.
4. Hanging out
One of Google+’s most powerful and popular tools is the Hangouts feature. It allows up to 10 people to join the conversation at any one time and can be broadcast to the world via YouTube or kept within your circle.
The White House regularly conducts G+ Hangouts on major policy announcements, with both the President and the First Lady hosting their own Hangouts, while DHL and Manchester United combined for a question and answer session between fans and the players. Even the Muppets hosted a hangout with Kermit and Miss Piggy to promote The Muppets movie.
As long as you’ve got somebody comfortable speaking on camera, they’re a great opportunity to take your message direct to the community.
5. Author Rank
Seen the results in Google that return a name and face next to the author? That’ll be the Google author rank feature, which marks up content in Google using the author’s face and a link to the Google+ page.
Many leading blogs already do this and the early signs are a human face increases click through rates. In the future, this will enable journalists to build their online profile, but it also means that brands who are willing to have visible bloggers could also boost their Google profile.
6. Sign-in with Google
Google has just launched Google+ Sign In, which is their version of Facebook Connect and works in a similar manner in allowing you to use your Google Plus or YouTube account to sign into applications.
Their key selling point is that, unlike Facebook’s frictionless sharing, you decide who and when you want to share any of your app activity with. It’s still too early to see how the take-up will go with this, but The Guardian and Shazam already have the G+ sign-in buttons installed. Expect many others to join them.
7. Don’t forget mobile
Google Plus’s mobile app is a pretty slick affair that mimics most of the functionality of the network and is a little smoother to use than Facebook’s mobile app. In addition, Google+ Local has their own app, tied into Google Maps (of course) for discovering the world around you.
Make no mistake, this is a network that is geared up for mobile and fully poised to take advantage of our growing use of smartphones and tablets.
8. You can learn a lot from Google
Google’s offerings complement each other and there’s a lot of data you can pull from G+, whether it’s seeing how far a post has spread with the Ripples function, or going deeper with Google’s Webmaster Tools and Analytics. At the heart of any good PR campaign should be measurability and Google offers some excellent free tools to do just that.
9. Don’t neglect the search aspect
Of course, at the heart of Google’s is still their core business of search and Google+ plugs directly into this. Big, active pages with high engagements or individuals with a high social footprint and connected author rank across Google’s social offerings are naturally going to be viewed as authoritative by Google’s own search engine.
The same goes for content that’s widely shared and plus oned across G+. The network is geared towards developing authority based on personal tastes influence search results. Those who are prepared to invest in G+ are likely to reap the search benefits in years to come.
10. It’s all connected
The key thing to remember here is that Google and Google+ don’t exist in silos – and nor should your PR strategy for these either. Google is still a search company, and Google+ is designed to complement this.
Whether it’s through delivering more personalised results based on what you’ve +1ed on Google+, publishing a hangout direct to YouTube or just basic SEO keywords, they’re all tied into Google’s frighteningly clever operation.
It’s easy to pay lip service to Google Plus by creating a page and populating it with exactly the same material as you do your Facebook page (and we’re in no way suggesting you drop those finely-honed social strategies for other networks – they should also be joined up to a wider strategy).
But for PRs and brands who are prepared to work at the network, it gives you a greater opportunity to target and interact with influencers, create your own authoritative voices and get them to rank highly in Google, all while measuring the results with high-quality analytics tools.
Tags: 10 things you need to know, Google, Google Plus, PR
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I suspect the news my smartphone will soon turn into my doctor is exaggerated. While a consultation with my phone will always be easier to arrange than an appointment with my GP, I know for a fact that even the techiest among us still want to see a living, breathing, qualified person when they’re under the weather.
I say this with confidence as this is one of the key findings from the first ever mHealth report by Ruder Finn. The report, based on a survey of more than 1,000 smartphone and tablet users, shows that while there’s an appetite for healthcare applications, and consumers generally love a good app, developers of health applications have not convinced the public of this kind of app’s value to them. The survey’s results show that apps for social media, games and news are the most popular with users of smartphones and tablets; healthy living apps languish in last place in terms of popularity.
The survey, conducted on our behalf by pollster YouGov, reveals some interesting links between type of device and the likelihood of the user to use health & lifestyle apps. The research suggests apps that help take away some of the pain associated with healthcare – booking appointments and getting hold of test results for example – are more popular than those to actually manage health. Our results suggested a great deal of caution around apps to help patients manage long term health conditions – significantly even among those suffering from chronic disease/ health problems. These findings may come as a disappointment to the World Health Organization, which along with The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is launching an mHealth initiative to help combat noncommunicable diseases, based on the fact that mHealth is cost effective, scalable and sustainable.
In our survey, there is a difference between the generations and the impact that might have on app usage. While 75% of respondents between 25-34 owned a smartphone fewer than 30% in the 55+ category did. Although everyone accesses healthcare it’s usually the oldest among us who use it most. It will be interesting to see how usage patterns change as the gamers and Tweeters of today get older.
If you’d like to learn more about the Ruder Finn mHealth report you can email us on healthcaretechUK@ruderfinn.co.uk or leave us a comment below.
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Max Clifford last night told a group of journalists that his successful career in PR was down to luck and common sense.
A member of the National Union of Journalists, since he was 17, Clifford was speaking to the NUJ’s Press and PR branch’s monthly meeting at the union’s London HQ.
Saying he “felt sorry” for today’s journalists he described his transition from a local reporter in south west London to publicity man for The Beatles in the early 60s as relatively easy because there was no PR industry in the UK. “There was no one to teach you, you were just making it up as you went along,” he said.
Clifford said his role with The Beatles was actually negligible but as he was the source of all information on the group’s tour dates, appearances etc he got to know every entertainment journalist in the UK. At that time, if you knew 20 national reporters you probably had access to all the UK’s media. He describes the 60s as an altogether friendlier time and that his biggest problem was contacting the journos before 1pm as after that time, most were blotto.
In the late 60s Clifford left EMI with his then boss to set up their own PR company that dealt with celebrities primarily. His PR career took off from there.
“I was 27 and learnt pretty quickly that by using a celebrity you could get publicity for anything. If a celebrity ate at a restaurant the restaurant got publicity. If they wore your clothes, your brand got publicity,” he told the meeting. He said this lasted for about 20 years but the last 20 years in PR have been about protection, about keeping information his clients would find embarrassing out of the news. He said the biggest part of damage limitation was anticipation and that meant knowing your clients very well.
“I love my job and I like the people I work with so I instinctively want to protect them, people come to me who are worried the press is going to turn them over,” he said, noting that he has never once pitched for work – clients have always approached him.
Clifford said he worked on hand shake deals and had never had a contract with a client. He said he valued working for himself as he was answerable to only himself. Working for himself enabled him to pick and choose who he worked for whereas many of the journalists he worked with were beholden to their employers. “I’ve been in a lot of battles over the years and stood up to people threatening me. Lots of people with a wife and kids or husband and kids and a mortgage are too scared to do that,” he said.
Clifford gives away a lot of his time and money. He supports children hospices around the country, speaks for free to journalism and PR students on a regular basis, and spoke to the union last night for free. When asked who he’d have liked to have represented but never has he said the England squad: football is at the heart of this country and the work the footballers could do with children would be “wonderful”.
Clifford told the meeting last night he’d broken more stories in the UK than any reporter — do you agree? Do you have a favourite Clifford campaign? If you do, why don’t you let us know
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Having spent most of my childhood and adolescence in Basel and enjoyed its proximity to the Alps, the peace and quiet of the countryside, and secretly loving how punctual the Swiss are, I really have to vouch for the city and all it has to offer.
But my affection for Basel is not shared by my colleagues who travel there on business and moan about the outdated 80s music played in cabs and bars, the abundance of stereotypical English pubs, and lack of culture.
With this in mind, here’s a list of fun things to do while in Basel on business.
Bar Rouge - On the 31st floor of the Messeturm, the tallest building in Switzerland. It offers amazing views of France, Germany and Switzerland and has an impressive cocktail list.
Noohn - This trendy Japanese restaurant and bar is popular with young professionals and is a far cry from your stereotypical English pub. It offers warm sake and sushi, along with other delicacies and has a great roof terrace.
Kunsthalle - A little known fact about Basel is that the city has the highest density of museums in Switzerland. One of these is the Kunsthalle, which is centrally located and has a number of great Swiss and international works on display. During the winter months, the inner courtyard is turned into a public ice rink.
Basler Münster - Situated next to the Rhine, overlooking the city, the Munster was originally built as a Catholic cathedral but has since been converted to a Protestant church. Like many buildings in Basel, the Munster dates back to the 11th century. It is also the resting place of Desiderius Erasmus and provides great views of the city.
“Münschter-Fähri” - A great feature of Basel are the four wooden ferries situated along the Rhine. The ferries are pushed across the Rhine by the water current and are a great alternative to walking across the bridge. Although they aren’t free (approx. 2 CHFs from previous experience) they can also be rented by the hour in the evenings should you wish to host some drinks onboard.
So if you’re Under Pressure in your meeting, make sure you Wake Up Before You Go-Go and see some of the sights. You’ll soon be saying, ‘I Just Can’t Get Enough’ of Basel!
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Other than the obvious priority discussions about our client work and key account deliverables, what the healthcare team is really talking about today is what to wear to the Communiqué awards. Panic is starting to set in for some, while others are smugly sharing links to their perfect dresses that are already safely hanging up at home.
These awards are like the Oscars for our industry. As well as the prestige associated with being shortlisted for (or even better actually winning) one of these awards, it is an event at which all the great and the good of the London healthcare PR industry gather. It is a chance to see former colleagues and clients and celebrate the truly impressive and creative things that can be done in the world of healthcare PR.
The Ruder Finn team is especially excited this year as we are a nominated finalist. Based on the murmured discussions overheard around the office this morning this means that the dress needs to be extra fabulous. Should one go for the classic LBD or be bolder and braver? Knowing the characters in this office I fully anticipate that the Ruder Finn table will be singing a very colourful rainbow next month… Watch this space and we will share a photo of the team on the night.
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