BLUE Communications is a purpose-led organisation that, true to their word, is helping clients transform the shipping and marine industry for the better. They have taken a progressive and proactive approach to helping clients measure success against clear and commercial objectives. In a sector rife with ethical challenges, BLUE is encouraging its clients to take a more authentic and transparent approach to communication, even where that means having difficult conversations.

Mark of Excellence:

  • Teamspirit

Finalists:

  • Chameleon
  • CIB
  • Gong Communications
  • Meantime Communications

Winner entry:

Date of incorporation, number of employees – including executive / support staff – and annual fee income:

Date of incorporation: November 2007

Number of employees – including executive / support staff: 21

Annual fee income: £1.5 million (FY 2016-17)

Business objectives and analysis of performance against budget over the past three years:

Over the past three years, BLUE’s key corporate objectives have been as follows:

  • To increase bottom line and top line revenues year on year
  • To increase global client-base and average fee income per client, and to partner organisations that actively contribute to the sustainability of our target sectors
  • To develop our proposition which cements ‘brand’ as a core tenet in reputation building, represented through all communications channels
  • To continue to build a diverse team and implement market-leading processes, grounded in BLUE’s brand and values, to drive retention and develop employees’ professional and personal growth and well being.

A brief overview of business / team strategy:

BLUE has spent ten years evangelising the tangible value of brand, and importance of reputation within marine and energy – laggards in terms of sectors that understand the value of investing in PR. In 2007, marketing and communications for most companies in these sectors was a tactical smorgasbord of trade ads, brochures, and sponsoring coffee breaks at conferences. BLUE has led the professionalisation of communications in these industries, building the market from the ground up to become the largest and most respected consultancy in this space.

Ten years on, 2016/17 has been our best year ever, and 2017/18 is on track to continue this growth – a testament to our approach and values.

We pride ourselves on recruiting communications professionals from diverse backgrounds with outstanding talent and potential, and training them in the nuances of the marine and energy sectors. This in-depth knowledge means that we can fully understand our clients’ businesses, enabling us to create strategic communications programmes that have real impact, build reputation, and increase enterprise value.

A summary of commitment to CPD and professionalism:

We want our employees to flourish and grow with BLUE. To assist this we:

  • Deliver line management and mentoring alongside a formal appraisal process to ensure ongoing personal development
  • Customise training (internal and external) for every individual based on jointly agreed objectives
  • Hold quarterly ‘away’ and corporate team building/development days
  • Offer generous bonuses to staff at all levels for introducing new employees and for recommending an approach to a successful new business lead
  • Offer flexible working in terms of time and location as appropriate
  • Devolve operational responsibility from directors to a management board composed of the senior team
  • Offer benefits for everyone including high-street discounts, wellness discounts and services, and a free, anonymous financial, legal & mental health helpline
  • Deliver regular pastoral workshops on subjects such as mindfulness, resilience in the workplace, and female empowerment.

BLUE is committed to diversity at each level of its business, with 14% of staff from BAME backgrounds, and 55% female representation throughout the business, and at senior level.

A summary of recent outstanding achievements, including client list growth / retention:

From January 2016 until January 2017, BLUE has significantly increased its client base – from 20 to 35, of which almost 100% are on retained rolling annual contracts. The company has an excellent retention rate – 35% of current clients have been retained for three years or more. We now have 21 full time employees, up from 15 at the beginning of 2016. We work with household names, international charities and NGOs, innovative start-ups, governments and regulators across 14 countries. Clients include Castrol, the UK Hydrographic Office, Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room, Cyprus Department for Merchant Shipping, and the Mission to Seafarers.

Other achievements include:

  • BLUE has been listed in the PR Week UK Top 150 consultancies
  • BLUE opened a second office and now has a foothold in London
  • In September 2017, at London International Shipping Week, BLUE held the first ever event focused on brand and communications in maritime, including speakers from GE, V. Group, and leading shipping industry publication Lloyd’s List.

A summary of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the brief, objectives, strategy, tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget:

In 2017, BLUE was tasked by NAPA, a leading maritime software and data company, to raise the profile of an innovative ship design tool amongst its key target audience – naval architects and engineering firms specialising in commercial vessels.

Objectives:

To raise familiarity among naval architects and structural designers of the importance of the shift from 2D to 3D ship design, and the value of the business case for making this shift, enabled by NAPA Designer.

Strategy:

It was critical to combine both direct and indirect communications, as ship design is a niche market with only two dedicated publications writing on the topic. BLUE’s strategy was therefore to also target key stakeholders directly with content they couldn’t ignore, showcasing the transformative effect and progressive impact of this technology.

Tactics:

BLUE developed webinars to showcase the difference NAPA software was making to shipyards. One featured NAPA’s most prestigious client, Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipyard. The other highlighted how naval architecture firm C-Job was using NAPA Designer to power its work with genetic algorithms, creating models that evolve to find optimal designs.

Outputs:

This complex challenge involved co-ordinating content development and production across three countries – including videography in Seoul and broadcast from Helsinki. Supporting material was create to distribute to industry media and on social media.

Outcomes:

Through direct communication and media outreach, BLUE supported NAPA in reaching over 650 key targets who viewed the webinars live, creating impact with precisely the right stakeholders. BLUE also secured coverage in both specialist publications – Shipbuilding Industry and The Naval Architect, as well as widespread coverage of the case study in leading industry publications, all carrying the desired message.

One year later, NAPA’s own user research indicates greater familiarity with 3D ship design among naval architects, while external commentators such as Naval Technology magazine listed it as an integral part of the ‘Digital Naval Shipyard’. This contributed to the evolution of NAPA Designer’s business development, with the company now focusing on extending its operation into new markets.

Budget:

€9000.