Another virtual event in the bag

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One of myriad lessons that can be drawn from the past year is that things don’t always go to plan. A recent EdQuarter endeavour helped drive that message home.

Our mission: to deliver a free, quality virtual event dedicated to the UK universities sector, tackled newsworthy subjects such as the challenges facing university professional services, the future of online learning, and the needs of tomorrow’s student. It was the third virtual event we’d run in the last 12 months, and this one was a real doozy!

After a weeks-long refinement process and countless team meetings leaving no stone unturned, our moment had arrived. We were ready to roll and, with two well-received digital conferences already under our belt, we were confident that we could deliver something better, brighter and bolder than before. But in a cruel twist of fate, the tech let us down just moments before we went live. ‘Third time’s a charm?’ Hmmm...more like, ‘Third time’s a challenge’ – so it’s a good thing that EdQuarter is never too shy to lean in and think on our feet.

We carried on with the day, as planned, recording our discussions (which were, typically, among the best we had done yet) so we could stream the event at a later date. Every person in our valued team pulled out all the stops to ensure we could still deliver what we had promised and that’s exactly what we did. It may not have taken shape in exactly the way we had planned, but things rarely do. And plus, it wouldn’t be an authentic live broadcast experience without the odd hitch here and there!

Regardless of the hurdles we met along the way, we still pulled off an event we can be proud of. In the words of Booker T. Washington: “Success is measured by the obstacles which we have overcome to reach it”, and this was an obstacle we still managed to knock out the park.

Virtual events going from strength to strength

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November saw Team Wildfire stage our second virtual event, this time for the independent education sector.

Complete with a new and improved virtual stage, new opportunities for audience interaction and sponsor participation, Independent Education Live built on the previous success of The EdTech Sofa Sessions earlier in the year.

Once again, audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and the team are already working on new ideas for further events as they become a key part of Wildfire going forward.

Old Friends,
New Horizons

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Last week, Team Wildfire had a long overdue (carefully planned, socially distanced – and a little frosty with doors and windows open!) face to face gathering.

It was a great chance to interact with colleagues we’d only seen on video call, re-connect with others we wouldn’t normally work with day-to-day and even an opportunity to meet new team members who have recently joined.

It was also time for senior leadership to share exciting plans with the team. Having successfully navigated the pandemic so far and while cautiously looking to more challenges ahead, the long-term future of Wildfire is looking bright!

Bristol Property is Live!

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After a brief hiatus during lockdown, the team are back, hard at work producing Bristol Property Live, the region’s favourite local property magazine.

Relaunched September 3rd BPL will have 18 issues per year in print and digital.

With the UK housing market having proven to be remarkably resilient throughout the coronavirus crisis BPL will be on hand to help buyers, sellers, movers and shakers across the region and beyond, keep on top of all latest housing news, fabulous properties and lifestyle tips.

Wildfire's first digital event

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As ‘new normal’ becomes normal, the team at Wildfire HQ have been busy adapting to remote work and creating stories for lives lived increasingly online.

Even as lockdown lifts, more and more people are looking for content that can be experienced anywhere and Education Technology were keen to oblige.

On 25th June, we hosted our first online event: The Edtech Sofa Sessions. Broadcast live from our brand new (virtual) studio, the event featured 6 hours of live panel discussions and interviews from leaders across the edtech sector, hosted by our fantastic editorial team.

Following the success of the Sofa Sessions, the team are now hard at work planning more digital events and thinking of other innovative ways to connect with our audience, and keep Wildfire a leader in digital media production.

…now here’s Wildfire with the news

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Team Wildfire have been busily at work preparing our education podcast!

Every few weeks our fab editorial team will be broadcasting the latest news and opinion from across the education sector with stories ranging from education politics, technology and business news, to student wellbeing and best practice tips.

Listeners everywhere will be able to tune in regularly on their favourite device.

Watch (listen to?) this space!

Let them eat cake

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Wildfire has hosted an eggstravagant Eater cake competition, all in the name of its chosen charity, Changes Bristol, which is been running mental health peer support meetings in the city for more than 14 years.

From vanilla and chocolate cupcakes to shortbread biscuits, sponge puddings and brownies, the brilliant bake off had it all.

This year’s Star Baker prize went to Production Coordinator James Higgins for his orange sponge offering (creatively entitled Orange You Pleased to See Me).

Cheers then!

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The Wildfire gang recently held a Gin and Quiz night to raise funds for its chosen charity Changes Bristol.

Changes has been running mental health peer support meetings in Bristol for over 14 years. Its meetings are safe places for people to talk about their feelings and to take steps toward improving their lives.

Wildfire’s very own quizmaster Ed Brown grilled the teams before they sampled some of the tastiest gins.

Winners GINster Pasties celebrated with a Bramble, a French 75 and a Tom Collins.

Feeling Festive

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Christmas morning came early at Wildfire HQ today, when the team participated in Christmas-themed competitions organised by our very own Santa Claus, Mary Wilson.

Armed with a festive arsenal of mulled wine and mince pies, the team got into the yuletide spirit and tried their luck to win some wonderfully indulgent, gift-wrapped prizes.

Plenty of ‘merry and bright’ gifts were won all round, including some very festive liqueurs, shortbread and Christmas games.

Ed’s Charity Fight Night / Club

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Our very own Ed Brown has decided to embrace his inner Rocky Balboa and have a go at 'Gym to the Ring', all while dedicating his efforts to help fundraise for a great charity; Changes Bristol. Check out that fighting pose!

'Gym to the Ring' is a 12-week boxing programme run by professional boxers and coaches – not for the faint-hearted!

Ed will learn everything from boxing skills to nutrition fitness and conditioning, from coaches with over 250 fights between them with years of knowledge in fighting and boxing training. At the end of his 12 weeks, Ed’s going to be matched against one of the other candidates to showcase all he’s learned in front of an audience of over 2,000 people – including his supportive Wildfire colleagues.

Ed Brown, Key Account Director, shares the trials and triumphs of his training; “I am currently in week 11 of a 12-week programme and at times the training has been brutal. From throwing up in week 3 to successfully completing a ‘shark tank’ sparring session – this is 8 agonising minutes facing 8 different opponents for 1 x minute round each!”

‘Split Night’ took place two weeks ago, when all the competitors were split into two teams and found out who their opponents are going to be on 11th November. Up until then Ed and the other candidates had been training together and began to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Ed isn’t expecting an easy ride but says; “as long as I remember my training and keep calm, hopefully will be able to put on a show for my friends and family.”

Money raised goes to Wildfire’s charity of choice; Changes Bristol, a mental health charity that provides those in mental distress a chance to talk in a safe, confidential environment and take the first steps towards improving their lives. Statistics show that as many as 1 in 4 people will suffer from some form of mental distress at some point in their lives.

Does Ed have what it takes to be victorious and go from the gym to the ring? We’ll find out on the big fight night on 11th November 22:00.

For those who wish to make a donation to the charity, Ed’s fundraising link is here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/edwardbrown1

Hola SIMO Educación!

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Last week the Wildfire working day looked slightly different – it was in sunny Spain!

Rob Bertels, University Business Account Manager, enjoyed a day of insight & investigation into edtech at SIMO Educación 2017. The exhibition, organised by IFEMA, was held from 25 to 27 October in Hall 12 of Feria de Madrid.

SIMO Educación showcases the most distinguished technological tools, aimed at optimising teaching and learning processes, including proposals involving interactivity for the classroom, solutions for adaptive and collaborative learning, digital content, management and communication platforms, printing solutions, 3D printing, virtual reality and augmented reality, gamification, robotics, programming, touchscreens, projectors and digital pens, and a large variety of other devices and applications for teachers.

Upon returning home Rob shared his thoughts; “Simo Educación was an exciting show with loads of big international exhibitors and plenty of topical keynotes. Roger Schank gave an inspiring presentation about leaving behind classrooms and providing students with immersive AI experiences, giving them the power to shape their own learning. There was also some interesting debate about robotics, and lots of school kids from Madrid were showing off the robots they’d coded.”

Most of the exhibitors at Simo Educación were Spanish-speaking, and the talented Rob added; “It was great to get the Spanish angle on technology in the classroom and practice a bit of the language.”

The Wildfire team will be jetting off again before Christmas to the upcoming Class Conference on November 15th- 16th 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal; part of The Class of 2020, Europe’s leading platform and Think Tank for all topics related to student living. Bon voyage!

Changes Bristol: changing lives for the better

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As a mental health crisis sweeps Britain, it is down to charities to plug the gap in NHS services and provide vital support for people who need it most.

Changes Bristol has been running peer support meetings across the city for adults since 2004 and offers anyone suffering from mental distress a chance to talk in a safe, confidential environment and take the first steps towards improving their lives.

Project manager Jason Washbourne knows first-hand the extent to which this support network can work to help people turn their lives around..

“I suffered from anxiety and depression,” he said.

“I had a real crisis in my early 30s and became completely dysfunctional and I could not work. I recovered, but then started to have a downward spiral and it was hard to access support.

“The only service I could access was Changes. I did not speak at the first meeting, I was too nervous and anxious but then I kept going back and listened to other people’s stories. I had these thoughts in my head and had thought it was me going mad or strange but hearing other people’s stories really helped.”

The charity that helped him and many others is entirely reliant on the goodwill and generosity of others and unlike most services, users do not require a referral from their GP to attend and there are currently 10 weekly meetings that take place in locations around Bristol.

Bristol24/7’s sister company, Wildfire Comms Ltd, is supporting Changes as its charity of the month in a bid to raise money and awareness of the vital work it carries out.

Changes trustee Alison McDougall, said: “We’ve already enabled so many people throughout Bristol to overcome their personal battles with mental health in all of its forms, but we know there’s so much more that can be done.

“There’s certainly a mental health crisis in the UK at the moment, with many services being severely underfunded. It’s only from the kindness of others and, in particular, from businesses like Wildfire that charities like ours can survive and reach the people that need us.”

During Mental Health Awareness Week, the charity is hosting its own art exhibition, Survive or Thrive, an immersive collection of work produced by Changes members that depicts the struggle to survive with a mental illness in today’s world, through to the positive achievements gained through peer support.

Survive or Thrive takes place from May 8 – 12, from 12.30pm – 5.30pm, in the Park Street Vestibule in City Hall.

This article is taken from Bristol24/7, they will be featuring a series of articles throughout Mental Health Awareness Week.

It's raining newbies...

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It’s been a busy couple of months at Wildfire with notable project successes and some exciting ventures on the horizon. Taking on more projects has inevitably meant growing the Wildfire family and we’ve relished the opportunity to expand, hiring no less than three new faces to bolster our expertise:

Bruce Mytton – Head of Design

A wealth of experience in digital and print media across the UK, Bruce has already used his fountain of knowledge to put his stamp on a myriad of projects and publications that come under the Wildfire umbrella. Have a look at our latest projects here.

Lucinda Reid – Editor – IET, AT, B4E

Bringing fresh enthusiasm and ideas from her diverse background that has included TV, print and digital media, Lucinda oversees a number of our most popular titles. Have a look at her most recent issue of Independent Education Today.

Sammy Milton – Editor – Bristol Property Live

Sammy has taken the helm of Bristol’s most popular weekly property magazine with the rigour and versatility it needs. Taking on more responsibility each week, you’ll more than likely see her reviewing Bristol’s hottest new restaurants near you, soon. Follow Bristol Property Live on twitter here.

If you’re interested in working for Wildfire Comms, visit our careers page to see the latest vacancies.

Social Media
Week Bristol

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Last week, global conference, Social Media Week came to Bristol for the first time. The SMWi events programme offered a collection of thought leadership masterclasses, a CEO roundtable and tailored social media events covering a range of topics, from analytics, and metrics to storytelling and compliance. By 9:22 am on Monday, #SMWiBristol was already trending nationally.

The team at Noisy Little Monkey delivered one of our favourite sessions, providing practical case studies, pastries and a lot of laughs.
Wildfire’s marketing squad headed to the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer to find out the answer to the key question on every marketer’s lips - Dude, where’s my traffic? Here are some of the session’s key take-aways on how best to measure ROI:

  • There’s a lot you can do with Google Analytics (probably more than you’re doing). Use it for hard measures. Set up goals to measure conversions. Whether it’s a purchase on an ecommerce site or submitting a form, this is the kind of data that your boss, board and clients really want to see.
  • Google Analytics is undeniably a vital weapon in any marketer’s arsenal but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. By utilising other tools to cross-reference GA’s statistics, you can feel confident in the validity of your figures.
  • It may seem obvious, but customer-focused marketing is paramount. We can all get caught up in the daily churn of our marketing activities without considering our specific customer personas. Noisy Little Monkey’s Holly Edwards, summed it up perfectly: “Know thy audience and know thyself.” Don’t flood your audience with pictures of puppies unless you really, really know they appreciate pictures of puppies.
  • Don’t fret over short term data dips. Instead, focus on trends over a 3-month period to get a clear picture.
  • Stay true to your brand and your audience.
  • Attract, convert, close and delight!

To see how we do things, take a look at our company video.

Universally challenged…

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Wildfire swotted hard for its recent charity pub quiz, held in trendy new destination bar Unit 2:4 (AKA the Wildfire office).

With questions on all the latest hot topic, including matching celebrities to their crimes, and a round entitled ‘Death’, the winning team (naturally) consisted of Editors Rebecca Paddick, Hannah Oakman and Nick Valentine, along with Director Mary Wilson in a ‘supporting’ role.

Most importantly, the combined quiz and charity auction raised £500 for our office charity Caring in Bristol. A great effort all round!

Wildfire Warriors raise £1,000 for Bristol charity

On Sunday 15th May, the Wildfire Warriors triumphantly completed the Great Bristol 10K 2016, raising over £1,000 for homeless charity, Caring in Bristol. Our team of 11 joined the 12,000-strong crowd taking on the 6-mile challenge, which kicked off in Millennium Square, and took in the fantastic sights of the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Our Marketing Manager and charity expert, Imogen, who led the Warriors to victory (after months of coaching and harassment), described the experience as “tough but thoroughly rewarding”.

Every year thousands of people in the UK experience homelessness and isolation. Caring in Bristol supports homeless and vulnerable people all year round in Bristol through effective, volunteer driven projects including Caring at Christmas and Bristol Nightstop.

Charity Director, Matt Dowse, who also ran the 10K, is thrilled at the on-going support from Wildfire: “We rely on the generosity of the public to carry out our vital projects. Wildfire has raised an incredible £1,000, which will provide a life-line for many vulnerable people in our city. A huge thank you to the team for their hard work and dedication - maybe see you at the Bristol Half!”

Bristol 24/7 Editor Martin Booth (AKA Ginger Flash) and Features Editor Pamela Parkes joined the team as honorary Wildfarians and clearly loved the experience. On reflection, Pam said: “Although I didn't feel it at the 7K point, it was a fantastic experience. Eight weeks ago I couldn't even run 1km and now I actually think I may have caught the running bug!”

Next up on the Wildfire fundraising calendar is a charity auction and in-house quiz night! All proceeds will go to Caring in Bristol. For more information on the charity, including ways to get involved, visit www.caringinbristol.co.uk

Great Scot – Fiona’s a winner!

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Scottish sales superstar Fiona Cowan (pictured, middle) is the proud recipient of Wildfire’s annual Sales Person of the Year award.

Fiona only joined Wildfire last August. Since then she has smashed all her targets, brought in revenues comfortably exceeding £100K, been promoted to a Senior Sales Executive and proved herself to be a consummate professional in all aspects of her job.

Sales Manager Joe Lawson-West (pictured left) took time out from celebrating his beloved Leicester’s title victory to present Fiona with her award. “It’s fully deserved,” he said. “I’d be totally and utterly lost without her in my team.”

Fiona, who also received a very attractive silver bracelet, said: “I’m really delighted. I love working at Wildfire and I feel genuinely honoured to receive this award.”

Wildfire goes to
the dogs

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Wildfire took a trip to Swindon this month for a night out at the Greyhound racing stadium.

As well as some food, drink and good conversation, the team splashed the cash on Swindon’s perfect pooches.

The big winner on the night was Bristol 247’s Ben Wright. When we asked him for a top betting tip, he said: “The one with the curliest tail always wins, trust me!”

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Wildfire is proud to announce its new charity partnership with Caring in Bristol, a charitable company delivering vital support to homeless and vulnerable people all year round in Bristol.

As experts in the education sector, we understand the importance of the wider picture and the need for a joined-up approach in achieving the longer-term strategy. Caring in Bristol’s social action projects tackle the underlying causes of homelessness and deliver long-term benefits for the increasing number of homeless people in Bristol.

And what better way to show our support for this fantastic charity than by teaming up for the Bristol 10K on Sunday 15th May to raise much-needed awareness and vital funds.

Many of our team members are running novices, so please help coax them to the finish line by donating today: https://www.justgiving.com/Wildfire-Comms.

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We’re delighted to announce there’s a new property queen in the Wildfire offices – Emma Dance has joined the Wildfire team as our new editor of Bristol Property Live.

Emma has a wealth of experience in newspaper, lifestyle and food journalism and is already making a big impression. Visit www.bristolpropertylive.co.uk to find out more.

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Education Technology, our leading magazine for the edtech sector, has a new account manager – Rachel Kelly.

Rachel is set to be a great addition to Wildfire Comm’s Edhub commercial team. Whether managing print products or developing digital delights for clients, look out for Rachel at a technology event near you soon!

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Following the departure of Wildfire stalwart Adam Omar, we have appointed a new Marketing Manager to oversee subscriptions, communications and events for our education and lifestyle publications. Comms whizz Imogen Smith joins us from the charity sector and is excited about growing our titles’ presence online, in print and at events. Welcome on board!

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We’re delighted to see our new-look Bristol Property Live paper out on the streets of Bristol this month. With a fresh, contemporary design for 2016 and exciting, revamped lifestyle content, the paper is packed with more top properties, restaurant reviews and homes and gardens advice than ever before – check out www.bristolpropertylive.co.uk to read the latest issue today or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bristolpropertylive.

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Wildfire is delighted to announce a new recruit to its talented sales team. Ed Brown has joined the company’s education hub to work on its flagship title University Business.

With a background in media sales, Ed is well prepared to manage and grow the UB brand in print and online.

When he’s not selling up a storm at the Wildfire office, Ed enjoys nothing more than relaxing with a round or two of golf.

From all the Wildfire team, we’d like to wish Ed a very warm welcome.

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Wildfire’s best bakers rose to the challenge for our latest bake-off, in aid of the Little Princess Trust. From sumptuous brownies to delicious carrot cakes (and even an almost life-size Minion), the team produced an amazing spread. Judged in two categories, ‘Best appearance’ went to Joe Jordan-Richardson (for the afore mentioned Minion), while Hannah Oakman was the runaway winner of ‘Best taste’ for an almond and elderflower sponge. A new Wildfire tradition in the making…

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Wildfire’s flagship education title University Business scored a notable triumph recently with its inaugural Young Leaders Awards ceremony. Held at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, London, in November 2015, YLA celebrated the talent and achievements of under-30s in Britain’s Universities. The event attracted a glittering array of movers and shakers from the Higher Education sector. They witnessed a thrilling and emotional evening, as winners were announced from shortlists in a variety of categories. Congrats to all those at Wildfire who worked so hard to make the event such a resounding success.

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After a frantic round of interviews, Wildfire is delighted to announce the arrival of no less than three new recruits to its multi-talented sales force. Michael Keane (left) will be immersing himself in the world of Education Technology; Fiona Cowan (middle) graduates to flagship title University Business; and Joe Jordan-Richardson (right) will be our go-to guy at Independent Education Today, replacing the lovely Laura Burton who’s retiring from sales to become a full-time child carer. Good luck to Laura, and welcome on board to the newbies!

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Wildfire hosted a brilliant bake-off at the beginning of the month to raise £140 for charity Refugee Action. Staff did their best Mary Berry impressions to produce frangipans, cheesecake, classic sponges, even peanut and bacon cookies. Stephen Hale, chief executive said: “Thank you, your gift will help families in crisis to live in dignity again."

To celebrate the launch of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol Property Live took off on a private balloon ride. Rising up on a perfect Bristolian morning, Editor Charlie Lyon enjoyed some magical views of our beautiful city.

University Business, Wildfire’s flagship education title, is hosting the inaugural Young Leaders Awards later this year. With the help of a top judging panel (pictured), we can now reveal the inspirational young people nominated for an award. For a full shortlist and a video of the judging panel in action, visit www.ylawards.com

The Edquarter team visited Wellington College for the recent annual Sunday Times Festival of Education. We were treated to a generous side of sunshine to go with the excellent mix of speakers, exhibitors and festival atmosphere. This year’s programme featured a wide range of thought leadership from homework, schools improvement and research, to well-known figures discussing Shakespeare and MI5.

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We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded the opportunity to create the marketing mix for two new Bristol property developments in conjunction with Ellson Homes and Ocean Estate Agents.