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Why Leeds is becoming a centre for digital PR

16 Jan
Digital Pr in Leeds

Leeds is fast becoming the centre for digital PR outside London. Image courtesy of Leah Makin

By Daniel Whitelegg

As companies finally take heed of the younger generation urging them to move into the 21st century, the online corporate footprint is growing rapidly as big businesses belatedly begin to embrace new media.

This has resulted in a new breed of public relations as digital PR begins to replace the old school methods of PalmPilots and red pens.

This trend can be seen more in the digital hub of the North, Leeds, more than anywhere else outside London. There are nearly 3,500 creative and digital firms in and around Leeds which makes it the strongest digital focus beyond the capital. Therefore it follows that digital PR thrives in a city that understands new media better than most. Which is why brands such as Converse, Radley and Lucozade have chosen Leeds based digital PR agencies recently.

Finn PR agency for instance, based just outside of the city centre, swept the board in 2012 with an arm-full of awards including “Best Use of Social Media” and “Best Digital Campaign”. Stickyeyes, another Leeds-based firm, won four prizes at the recent UK search awards including “Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign” and the “Grand Prix”.

Digital PR differs from that of traditional PR as it is more of a two-way conversation. Traditional methods didn’t stray too far from the stereotypes of having contacts at news organisations to spin positive media coverage. Digital PR is much more about interaction, with social media being the main focus. Networks such as Facebook and Twitter enable a business to tap into their target audiences lives, by selling user’s data to the highest bidder.

Chris Norton, head of Prohibition PR in Headingley, believes it is necessary that PR moves into the digital age in order for small companies to compete against big business. He says, “all PR should be digital because all media is digital. We write well researched articles for real people because that’s what’s going to get people to link to you and push you up the Google rankings. We’re competing against SEO’s who have big budgets whose sole aim is to get big business to the top of the page.”

It seems to be working so far as big brands are turning repeatedly to small digital PR agencies to manage their public relations and social media presence.

There is an argument that suggests these small digital PR agencies only have a limited lifespan as traditional firms begin to include digital elements in their work. Initially, these small agencies survived as they had a leg up on the competition. This is because they had an unrivalled understanding of how digital works and how it could be optimised.

However, their niche is slowly eroding as everything becomes more digital. Conventional PR practitioners are beginning to acquire the skills which were once reserved for the technologically literate and those fast enough to catch on. Will Ockendon, a Leeds based PR practitioner, says, “there are more and more full service agencies cropping up but when it comes to online presence, they’re more concerned with SEO.

If you want to get your website to the top of the rankings, then these will be the agencies to contact, but the majority of small digital PR companies offer something different to that.

They provide a more human touch and increase your brand awareness and relationship with customers in a way that’s not as easy to measure. This will ensure that the two don’t completely merge into one identity.”

The thing with the digital and creative sector is that they are always on the cusp of the next big tech and innovation. So it is likely that as traditional PR firms are entering the game, the established players will already be onto the newest format.

It is that knowledge, that ability to stay ahead of the competition which will ensure that Leeds digital PR will continue to prosper.

What is Digital PR?
Digital PR is all about combining traditional PR with content marketing, social media and search. It transforms static news into conversations and bypassing media to speak directly to a target audience online.

Which companies in Leeds use Digital PR?
Prohibition PR, Finn PR and Stickyeyes are just a few of the agencies in Leeds that utilise technology and the modern ways of communicating to improve their services.

Why do companies use this approach?
Integrating digital PR into a company’s marketing strategy helps build brand awareness, and also helps generate more contacts and ideas, allowing content get the attention of millions.

What will happen to the old method of PR?
The internet has transformed the media industry. As a result, the PR industry is completely different and companies have to adapt to the change because the traditional rules of PR do not work anymore. Now, if a PR agency wishes to get its client’s audiences’ attention, a press release is no longer enough. The online world is allowing brands to talk directly to its customers. As a result, the old methods of PR are no longer nessaccary.

First person: Jeff Franzen

29 Nov

President John F Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald during a visit to Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963. On the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination , 56-year-old Jeff Franzen, who now lives in Washington DC, remembers witnessing the event

Interview by Aimee Robinson

22 November 1963, it was my mother’s birthday and my dad decided to surprise her with a present from a new department store, Neiman Marcus, which had just opened in Dallas. I’m one of seven kids,  was the youngest and the only one not in school . I’m not sure if my dad had forgotten President Kennedy’s visit to Dallas, although the President doesn’t visit often, or if he just didn’t think about it, but when we arrived there was no way we could get down to the store.

The weather was supposed to be bad that day. It had been rainy when we left home, but by this point it was very clear, sunny but cool, so my dad took me to the centre part of Dealey Plaza where it was grassy, to play ball. The sun was shining through the trees while we waited, and I lost my ball.

At the time I wasn’t really aware of Kennedy’s  visit, I suppose the only thing I could relate it to was some sort of parade, but I could tell people were excited. Then the noise came, a rumbling in the distance, kind of like at a football game [nice]. A wave of cheering and applause, causing the office buildings surrounding the plaza to vibrate as the echoes bounced.

We were standing at a corner when the car came down a slope to the right of us. We were perhaps only four people away from the car, which meant we had a pretty good view. Jackie was closest to us; her pink suit and the roses in her lap caught my attention more than anything else.

That was until there were three loud bangs — gunshots — I can’t be sure. I heard three or if that number is just engrained in my memory because of what we know now.  As a kid I just put the noise down to firecrackers [nice], it was the only thing I could relate to being at a parade.

Confetti exploded from the car and spiralled downwards over the road. I realise now, the confetti was actually Kennedy’s head.

In that moment, everything changed. Suddenly there was pandemonium. Noise broke out. and All I could hear was the sound of people running. My mother immediately cried out something- some startled noise and started crying. I didn’t really understand.

I watched Jackie try and climb out over the back of the car, obviously trying to escape any danger, but a police officer pushed her back in.  I didn’t think much of it; still just assuming it was part of the parade. In all of the chaos, the car sped off. It had been going very slowly up until this point and suddenly the driver just hit the pedal. Motorcycles came from everywhere and surrounded the car as it headed towards the freeway-probably to the emergency room.

The pandemonium continued, though there were no more firecrackers. My dad pushed my mother and I to the ground and lay on top of us. I guess as an ex-military man he was more aware of what was going on and was trying to protect us. People were running down the slope towards the plaza. Police on motorcycles and secret service men came from every direction. The mood had completely changed, yet I felt a sense of excitement. I forgot all about my missing ball.  My dad shouted, “We’ve got to get out of here”’, so we did.

My father called the FBI and told them what we had saw, I suppose just to offer help, but they already knew more than we did. He just saw what everyone else saw. I think what surprised me most that day was the change in mood. Once we were back home everything was very somber, as though a member of the family had died. My parents were in mourning over our lost President and there was no getting away from it. It was on the news and there was constant talk of the assassin, Oswald, and later Jack Ruby, for a long time.

That day hasn’t really affected my life. It was just something I witnessed when I was too young to comprehend. It affected my parents more than me. My father always believed it was Oswald who shot the President, but as he has gotten older he’s become more accepting of conspiracy theories- he’s really changed his tune. I don’t believe there was any conspiracy. There’s a famous news anchor here in America, Dan Rather, who said after 20 years of looking for stories, “I just cannot find any shred of evidence of any kind of conspiracy or any grand scheme. I would love to find it as a journalist, but I just can’t.” That sums it best for me.

The class of 2013

20 May
Back row: Michael Glavin, Grant Whalley, Alex Hinds, Emily-Jane Smith, Rosa Mitchell, Laura Brothers, Danielle Theakston, Samuel Lowrey, Kieran McCormick. Middle row: Sophie Beaumont, Anisha Mahmood, Jessica Balme, Charlotte Corner, Samantha McGarry, Camilla Andrews, Holly Simmonds, Claire Johnson, Jack Carter, the “amazing” Amaan Ashfaq, Aditi Beri. Ashley Morris-Williams, Daniel Howard, Ben Chergui, George “Countryfile” Garnham, Grace O’Farrell, Sean Dodson Bottom row: Lauren Weldin, Charlotte Hemingway, Annisa Suliman, Louise Fletcher, Jenny Kean, Rebecca Welfle, Erica Smith

Back row: Michael Glavin, Grant Whalley, Alex Hinds, Emily-Jane Smith, Rosa Mitchell, Laura Brothers, Danielle Theakston, Samuel Lowrey, Kieran McCormick.
Middle row: Sophie Beaumont, Anisha Mahmood, Jessica Balme, Charlotte Corner, Samantha McGarry, Camilla Andrews, Holly Simmonds, Claire Johnson, Jack Carter, the “amazing” Amaan Ashfaq, Aditi Beri. Ashley Morris-Williams, Daniel Howard, Ben Chergui, George “Countryfile” Garnham, Grace O’Farrell, Sean Dodson
Bottom row: Lauren Weldin, Charlotte Hemingway, Annisa Suliman, Louise Fletcher, Jenny Kean, Rebecca Welfle, Erica Smith

Congratulations to all of our students for completing their studies. The #leedsmetfinalfling was a lot of fun. Don’t forget to join our two alumni groups on Linked-in.

This one for 2013 graduates only.

This one for all our graduates. Good luck, we will miss you all.

Music blogs

3 May

state of blogging in leeds aqaulim blue ultra light reduced shadow

The best food blogs in Leeds|The best music blogs in Leeds |The best sport blogs in Leeds |The best culture blogs in Leeds

By David Bowers and Guy Wynn Davies

With a plethora of original music venues including The Cockpit, Nation of Shopkeepers and Brudenell Social Club, the city is in a healthy position to host musical acts who could easily sell out venues worldwide.

Forget about the mid-noughties, a dark period in which Leeds was held responsible for releasing the Kaiser Chiefs/Pigeon Detectives pandemic upon the nation. Instead, revel in the city’s Alt-J who gatecrashed the monotonous Brit Awards after being nominated for three gongs, including British Album of the Year for An Awesome Wave. With the alternative music scene flourishing, is the indie/alternative blogosphere within Leeds mirroring that rise?

The Big Top Blog is a blog that addresses one of the most crucial aspects of Leeds’s scene, in terms of showing off unsigned and up and coming bands. Their rehearsal space/recording studio “Rock And Roll Circus” is a brilliant advert for unsigned music, with its funky décor and history of top quality acts both performing and rehearsing there. Their blog header: ‘We throw parties, we put on gigs, release albums and love music.’ epitomises the Leeds music mentality. They really aim to help unsigned bands, with free, legal downloads available on their website, and information on bands’ upcoming gigs and music releases.

Last month Local Natives, at Brudenell Social Club was a majestic experience. Not only are they a band so reputable that they can headline this years Beacons Festival in Skipton, they recently played a theatre gig to 2,800 people in San Francisco. The intimacy and sweaty rawness of the live music added to the brilliance of the experience. Jenessa Williams’ Safety in Sound interview with frontman Taylor Rice and celebratory fist-pumped is an incredibly refreshing read. The 19-year-old, unintimidated by the prospect of interviewing major artists such as Mumford and Sons, provides music reviews in an original, yet eloquent way. Here’s a snippet of her review of Local Natives’ Hummingbird record:

Hummingbird is a record that acts as a touchstone of a band rediscovering themselves, and in many ways, provides a good parallel to how myself, and many other people, need to adjust their lives. Finding that time to stop, letting things breathe, switching off the things that do not matter to us and put 120% into the things that do. Using challenges and obstacles as motivation to prioritise and reflect on our support networks in times of need. And asking ourselves, are we giving enough?

Jenessa’s fearless delving into the world of music journalism, a notoriously hard area to stamp your authority on is a definite inspiration for aspiring journalists like myself. Her obvious “if you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t win the raffle” attitude is reaping rewards.

Leeds’ music blog scene seems to be somewhat of a monopoly, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The aptly named Leeds Music Scene‘s homepage explodes with new, fresh content ranging from reviews to local music news. There is no quantity for quality compromise though, as their I Am Kloot review superbly represents the gig for those unfortunate to have missed it:

Judged on its own terms however tonight’s performance is a quiet triumph. There is nothing incendiary to be found here, just unassumingly sumptuous, graceful and articulate indie-pop songs all delivered with an earthy authenticity and a pinch of ribald humour.

Despite boasting an impressive catalogue of wonderfully articulate album reviews and gig reviews, there is a potential danger that readers may overlook younger blogs like Safety in Sound as Leeds Music Scene updates it’s website regularly which is highly impressive. Essentially, I’m urging you to get your meat from a local butcher (Safety in Sound) and that you don’t always have to get it from Tesco (Leeds Music Scene).

Music Broke My Bones is a blog that centres on live music, with regular updates informing followers of up coming gigs around the city and beyond. Their stylish blog has sections for new music, interviews, features and reviews, whilst a live stream keeps viewers updated on the latest music news and information.

Bad Fotography takes on the relatively unknown and presents it in a brilliantly eery way. The homepage is strikingly grungy and leads you to articles written in a way that emulates the author’s passion for music. Combine that with photography that even David Bailey would be proud of. This review of The Soft Moon at Brudenell demonstrates the qualities that Bad Fotography has in that it represents its photographic and journalistic talents, whilst adding Soundcloud links for those unaware of their songs.

So is the local music scene, Leeds is so renowned for still flourishing?’s article Is Leeds’ Music Scene Dying? addresses the view Leed’s once great scene has, in recent years, begun to decline, vehemently denying this;

“I’ve lived and worked in cities all over the UK, and can hand-on-heart say nowhere has a music scene quite like Leeds.”

We live in a 24/7 society where most people intend to obtain news quickly and efficiently. With that statement in mind, it’s understandable people get their music-fix from somewhere as fantastic as Leeds Music Scene, I’m sure it’s 9,803 twitter followers would agree. But just like the musicians of Leeds, there are an influx of music blogs in the city flying under the radar. Leeds is blessed with venues that are beautifully original. It’s time we echo the passion of those venues and follow the path of Safety in Sound, Far Out and Bad Fotography, to propel Leeds into becoming a haven for alternative music blogs.


Kaiser Chiefs – Welcome To Leeds

Leeds has a rich history of top quality music, and as such a, wealth of bloggers have sprung up in recent years to document it. Leaders For Leeds addresses the fact that Leeds was always expected to be a musical hotbed. A little outdated maybe, but a clear piece of evidence that Leeds has long been regarded as musically prolific, along with Manchester and Liverpool.

Skip forward 30 years and The Culture Vulture, a well – established blog covering a range of topics (art, music, history) has a highly interesting article on the ‘Leeds Music History Exhibition’. This event, held in the summer of 2011, analysed the extensive history of Leeds’ Music Scene, and displayed a range of musical memorabilia, including actual Q and Grammy awards for Corinne Bailey Rae, a guitar and amp representing the Sisters of Mercy from 1980 to the current day
The organisers, all of whom were dedicated music lovers, described the event as

From the Three Johns to Cud, Bridewell Taxis to Jake Thackray, Age Of Chance to Spacehog the exhibition covers the whole gamut of styles and artists synonymous with Leeds including material dating back to the 1950′s when Leeds thriving jazz scene played hosts to the likes of Humphrey Lyttelton and the Glen Miller Band.

With such a long history of top quality music, this article stands out, advertising the exhibition well, particularly as so as it provides fun facts;‘Who would have guessed that U2 once played the Merrion Centre.’

A slightly more professional blog still whole – heartedly involved in promoting music from the ground up is . This blog has the catchy header

“No nonsense music blog – supporting the best in new and upcoming music.”

It has reviews, features on new bands, interviews and news on live sets, festivals and signings, an advocate of grass-roots music production.

The next blog is by far the most established in Leeds, with profiles on the majority of all Leeds bands, whether brand new or extremely experienced. Leeds Music Scene covers all kinds of music, with reviewers experiencing gigs all over the West Yorkshire area. The blog contains both live and recorded reviews, interviews and a host of multimedia, including music videos, fan footage and fresh new tracks. As a reviewer for LeedsMusicScene myself, I have first – hand experience of the kind of service they provide to the music lovers of Yorkshire, and really are integral to the Leeds Music Scene and the DIY attitude that is so synonymous with it.

A blog that takes music into account while also appreciating other interesting aspects of Leeds life is Leeds List Their article on Leeds’ Independent Record Stores really provides an insight into the Leeds underground music culture and the shops that help unsigned artists, including the process of recording, producing and distributing music without the help of record companies. This blog is particularly helpful for those looking to experience all of Leeds’ culture, with links to restaurants,bars and nightclubs that are popular.

This kind of passion for music, and the refusal to accept that Leeds is any less than an excellent environment for music, is epitomises the reason behind the continuing special and inspiring music scene.

Football blogs

3 May

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The best food blogs in Leeds|The best music blogs in Leeds |The best sport blogs in Leeds |The best culture blogs in Leeds

By Ryan Parrish

When it comes to unofficial stories, opinion and comment on Leeds United, the internet is awash with amateur bloggers and social networkers clamouring to have their voices heard. The rise of Twitter has promoted Leeds fans’ online presence, offering interesting, original and often humorous takes on the state of the Whites.

One blog that has tapped into the upsurge of social media is relative newcomers Right in the Gary Kelly’s. Although they may not boast the largest Twitter following, RITGK has come into prominence in the last year after a number of high-profile interviews with various Leeds United figures. Last December following the culmination of the takeover of the club by GFH Capital, RITGK managed to bag themselves an interview the following day with GFH directors David Haigh and Salem Patel.

The interview was a significant step forward in rebuilding the bridges burnt between previous ownerships and independent Leeds United outlets. The case in point being Chairman Ken Bates’ dismissal of fanzine The Square Ball in his programme notes before a home game against Nottingham Forest in April 2011. It’s no coincidence that the GFH representatives allowed RITGK to conduct one of their first post-takeover interviews. In recent weeks they’ve managed to coup a number of high-profile interviews with Leeds legends Dominic Matteo and Michael Bridges, adding to their repertoire of innovative content.
Elsewhere, The Square Ball magazine is a name likely to resonate with most Leeds fans and over the last couple of years, they’ve become an integral part of the ever-growing independent Leeds United media world, with a podcast, social network accounts and a blog to boot. TSB can be forgiven for averaging around one post a month on their blog: they do have a magazine to publish, but when they do post, you can be sure to find eloquent and humorous content, often on topics away from the football pitch.

Another key player in the  Leeds United focused websites is The Scratching Shed, who have established themselves as the go-to place for Leeds news and reviews, amassing an impressive Twitter following along the way. They offer passionate match reports and opinion stories and they’re not afraid to drum up a bit of a debate.

There’s also an increasing number of blogs that offer match reports and stories from a more personal point of view. Travels of a Leeds Fan is a popular blog ran by Andrew Butterwick, who follows the Whites up and down the country, documenting the game and his day out in a unique way as he somehow manages to visualise proceedings for those who weren’t there. Another blog in a similar vein is Fear and Loathing in LS11, where Adam J recalls his adventures watching Leeds home and away, often opting to focus on some of the comical happenings of the day out. As he describes towards the end of his review of this weekend’s 0-0 draw at Blackburn:

Oh yes, there was something else wasn’t there? A game of football of sorts, almost inconveniently sandwiched in between the fun. I know it shouldn’t be like this, but people, this seems to be our lot once more.

Both blogs make for refreshing reading from the box-standard match reviews in a season which has been majorly forgettable for Leeds fans.

With a fan base the size of Elland Road clubs, you can be almost certain to find new places every week to get your Leeds United fix. Post-takeover, the club now seems to get involved and they’ve also since introduced official Twitter and Facebook accounts, both of which have been greatly received by supporters. Anybody with internet access can set up a blog and write their thoughts about Leeds United, but with the club’s new welcoming approach, there could be an exciting new chapter lying ahead for the Leeds United blogosphere.

Theatre and opera blogs

3 May

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The best food blogs in Leeds|The best music blogs in Leeds |The best sport blogs in Leeds |The best culture blogs in Leeds

By Ewan Smith

Leeds is considered the Northern hub for culture and performing arts. It has a rich history including the Leeds City Varieties, thought to be the longest unremittingly running music hall in Great Britain and Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House which opened its doors in 1878. These historic institutions may not have the acclaim of the West End or Broadway but the local audience love to write about their experiences. According to Lyn Gardner, who writes for The Guardian’s Theatre Blog; “Leeds is a city whose scale and energy makes all sorts of things possible”.

A forerunner in the Leeds blogging scene, the Culture Vulture website is a Leeds-centric blog about nights out, local events and a place for the bloggers of Leeds. It covers a range of activity, running articles on local theatre performances from professional to amateur productions. Written by reviewers with all the wit and sparkle that competes with the best of the blogosphere, the reviews cover different theatres and styles of production, including the recent rewrite of Marlowe’s Faustus at the West Yorkshire Playhouse,  “whilst unquestionably a compelling and daring modification, it raises as many questions as it answers” and a performance of the Fringe-successful Leeds based Facehunters, “the show flounders somewhere between a drug-fuelled lecture on morality and a public information film warning reserved Northerners against the colourful perils of The South”. One of the main benefits of a collective blog is arguably the comments section; without the regular trolling of a national website, Culture Vulture brings people together to discuss local events and share opinions.

Focussing more on the theatre in Leeds, CultureLeeds is a blog covering all sorts of goings on in the area, including
OperaNorth performances, West Yorkshire Playhouse shows and Northern Ballet renditions, all well-written and detailed. The blog portrays a lively and ever-changing theatre scene in a thriving city, which is pretty spot-on for Leeds. With reviews on everything from films to pub quizzes, CultureLeeds is an interesting blog to follow, both for the opinions and the exposure to what’s going on in the city.

For a look at a more student-orientated view of the theatre, a key place to go is the stage@leeds blog. Based on
the University of Leeds campus,  stage@leeds hosts a mixture of amateur and professional touring shows, with the blog being comprised of reviews, discussions and interviews. With a focus on upcoming performances at the venue, the blog isn’t well organised but manages to make up for it with a range of eloquent articles and an exciting mix of performances.

Blogging allows a range of perspectives that can be showcased and appreciated. With the OperaNorth blog, this is taken to new levels, with posts written by everyone from conductors to the  performers. For instance, Steven Harrison recently played Floristan in Beethoven’s Fidelio, wrote this piece on his time in Leeds. Elsewhere,  Dr Nicholas Ray’s examination of Verdi’s Otello  and David Cooper’s fascination with the work of Bernard Herrmann are both informative and accessible. While being mainly focussed on OperaNorth productions, the blog also shares a passion for a wide-ranging remit of art in Leeds. It does what it’s supposed to; creating the image of a company that loves artists and the art they make, bringing people together to share that feeling.

For more backstage information, the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Backstage Blog  is a growing resource
with updates from the theatre. As a recent addition to the Leeds theatre scene,  WYP has a reputation for creating and hosting well-received contemporary theatre, something that is benefited by a strong online presence. Organised by production, the blog is easy to navigate and contains interviews with directors and rehearsal updates, doing all it can to make the reader feel like more than just a punter.

In the case of Leeds, excellence in theatre breeds excellence in theatre discussion. With many fans just a few clicks away, there is no excuse for unawareness concerning upcoming performances and through these blogs you can read up about them from inception to completion. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that theatre in this city receives such acclaim; Lyn Gardner said: “it’s Leeds that gives this creative community such energy”. Judging by the time and effort put into these blogs, it’s hard to disagree.

Food blogs

3 May

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The best food blogs in Leeds|The best music blogs in Leeds |The best sport blogs in Leeds |The best culture blogs in Leeds

By Charles Engwell and Sally Humberstone

Food blogging is an understated art. If done just right, like a fine Manet painting, it may be controversial but will surpass your expectation and leave you wanting to explore and find more. If done wrong it can be catastrophic for any restaurant and the reader. The internet is a digital mezze of food blogs and many need to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, certain blogs, the crème de la crème, manage to find the right balance and work as a vital tool for the public in a more competitive, and in recent years, struggling economy. These are the good food writers. They help us all eat better and make smarter culinary decision and surprisingly, despite tight budgets, students are amongst the most common bloggers in Leeds.

Perhaps the most popular and known of them all, is Leeds Grub. A great advocate for independent restaurants, writer Katie Bolton often ventures to the outskirts of Leeds to review. Blogging on afternoon tea to vending stalls, Leeds Grub offers users a valuable source of impartial comment on eating out in the city and surrounding areas.

Another essential ingredient in the Leeds food “blogosphere” are the writers who take it upon themselves to cook and review recipes in their own homes, like the author of Squeeze of Lemon, who finds inspiration from visiting restaurants in and around Leeds and recreating recipes at home. A great example are home made gyoza inspired by a visit to Fuji Hero in Leeds. This is a very clever way of publicising restaurants as well as empowering people to cook in there homes.

If an individual bloggers opinion wasn’t enough, The Globe Troffers have it covered. Based in and around Leeds, this group of foodie friends simply decided to embark in eating out and blogging about it. A simple idea that has paid off in execution- since each member reviews individually in the city and all over the world, there are many different opinions that come together in one place for the benefit of those who love to dine out.

These popular choices will no doubt have covered most of the mainstream eating out reviews and eating in knowledge between them. For something a little more niche, however, Wheat Surrender is one of the blogs serving the alternatively-hungry people of Leeds- here’s their blog description.

Welcome to my blog about wheat intolerance. Sounds riveting, I know! But if you have to cut out one of the most widely used ingredients from your diet, it can be a huge pain in the bum for you, the people you live with and those poor gits that invite you round for dinner. So hopefully I will be able to give useful tips and share experiences that may make life a little easier. If, like me, you don’t really have time to bake your own wheat-free bread (that from my experience tastes like stale beetroot anyway) then you’ve come to the right place.

It may sound anything but riveting, as pointed out, but the muses of the anonymous wheat intolerance sufferer is a comical look into a world without wheat, including recipes and personal experiences which seem a valuable source of information for fellow coeliacs.

Again in the niche area of Leeds’ food blogosphere is Iron Cupcake: Leeds. The inspiration behind the blog came from a cupcake competition seen on the internet, in which contestants would have a cupcake bake-off using obscure ingredients. This idea was taken up in Leeds and along with the monthly compeition club the Iron Cupcake: Leeds blog was born. It mainly offers details of the challenges, but even so the very specific content is a joy to read and includes detailed photography.

Another blog spurred on by its background is Primo’s Gourmet Hot Dogs. Recognisable by it’s independent restaurant in The Corn Exchange,the team at Primo’s Gourmet Hot Dogs blog with updates on the restaurant and business. This may conjure up feelings that Primo’s blog is fairly limited in terms of content, but amidst all of the big name restaurant chains (which would have no business blogging) it is pretty accepted for the independent restaurants to do so, and to gain support from the foodie community with ease.

There is a food world microcosm being created under one roof and it is thanks to bloggers, everyone can know about it. It is not only just pleasurable to read and relate to the ins and outs of cooking and eating in this city- but also for the sheer support and acknowledgement that each blog share for each other, and for the ever-growing independent eateries of Leeds that enable these foodies to be continuously inspired.

State of blogging in Leeds: 2013

3 May

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By Alexander Almond

Our guide to:

The best food blogs in Leeds|The best music blogs in Leeds |The best sport blogs in Leeds |The best culture blogs in Leeds

In many ways we live in an extraordinary city. While most northern towns remain deep in the downturn, the commercial heartbeat of Yorkshire continues to grow.  But what exactly do the blogs of Leeds say about the city?


Google ranking

Alexa reputation

Social media reach


1. Culture Vulture 596674 402 18763 98
2. The scratching shed 541247 147 11600 94
3. Leeds music scene 1197137 222 10000 91
4. Leeds Inspired 2306453 62 5133 82
5. Lay the table 1157302 177 1304 81
6. The Square Ball 2580618 44 12932 80
7. Rachel Reeves mp 4788705 42 19897 76
8. Right in the Gary Kellys 1194073 23 3421 74
9. A storm in a teacup 1989921 47 1399 73*
10. The magic square foundation 3713466 122 2337 73
11. A forte for fashion 1487845 57 808 72
12. The social business 8031053 46 3865 70
13. Millies Food Leeds 3245941 22 3824 67
14. Fear and loathing in LS11 2626979 9 2713 63*
15. South Leeds life 3818470 44 1186 63
16. The Leeds Citizen 5065830 41 1485 61*
17. Leeds Grub 8298357 12 3830 61
18. Secret lives of objects 18072759 6 6033 58
19. Jo-Blogs 18961502 11 597 47
20. Considerate Trespassing 17089202 8 202 46

Taking an overview of the top 20 blogs in the city (see below) we found that culture dominates. With an influx of money, new arenas, titanic shopping centers and, of course, the “affordable” Bruce Springsteen, coming to Leeds this year, there has certainly been more than enough for the Leeds bloggers to get their virtual teeth into. As a result, the city’s blog scene has experienced a boom, gaining popularity and attention with a range of talented writers reporting, reviewing, and retweeting, making this network of blogs a prominent part in discovering the ins and outs of the city.

Google, a Jolly Green Giant of search engines, plays an vital role in deciding Leeds’ top bloggers, ranking the various blogs by the amount of links leading to their sites, then positioning the more visited blogs above those less popular when searched for through Google.

We at Journalism at Leeds Metropolitan decided to investigate the local blog scene and came up with a list of the top blogs for 2013. The table of the 20 blogs, ranging from food and culture to politics and sport, have been ranked according to their total of “Leeds Metropolitan” points. The points system, which positions the blogs according to their score out of a 100, comprises of the blogs global page rank on Google, plus their reputation as according to the Alexa Page Ranking system and, finally, an assessment of their social media reach, according to how many people follow them on Twitter. We weighted the three factors towards the Google page rank (a ratio of 40/30/30) and for any blogs with the same amount of total leeds met points, the blog with the best global page rank is ranked higher. You can see our workings here. We believe we have a definitive list, but if there are any omissions, please contribute to the discussion below.

If we take a look through the carefully selected list of the top Leeds blogs, there is one obvious truth; Leeds is a city literally brimming with culture, just under a third of the blogs we handpicked for our 20 best are centred on the cultural ins and outs of Leeds’ life. Of course there is a definite feast of varied topics in our top 20, including food, politics, business, and not forgetting football. Unsurprisingly though, our virtual champ of the Leeds’ blogosphere is one that displays the more artistic elements of our city.

For all things cultural in Leeds, circle your mouse hungrily over The Culture Vulture. The panoramic site dedicated to the arts is a redoubtable source of information on local events. It boasts an army of bloggers that contribute towards the site, who not only provide entertaining and informative content for culture vulture but they also, and perhaps more importantly, seem to display a definite care about the goings on and welfare of Leeds.

Speaking of the welfare of the city, another blog in our top 20 that pry’s into all things political is the excellent Leeds Citizen, a blog which keeps a beady eye on council activities and plans through a constant provision of incredibly well written and intelligent posts. The citizen describes the blog as

A minor irritant on the flesh of the body politic of Leeds

and the citizen certainly keeps the council on their toes, providing a wealth of information on all things civic in Leeds; definitely deserving to be included in our top 20 blogs.

Two in our top 20 Leeds blogs were award winners at the Blog North awards in Manchester last year, which aims to celebrate the best of online writing in the north of England.

The First, winner of best specialist blog, was The Magic Square Foundation, an attractively designed fashion blog containing a wide array of the latest fashion trends, information, and genuinely interesting and crafted writing, all from the definitely talented Leeds graduate Eleanor Snare. Eleanor is a writer for an events agency by day, and by night a freelance writer and blogger. She also manages to find time to make her own clothes and jewellery.

The second prize winner is considered to be one of Leeds’ best photography blogs, Considerate Trespassing, and showcases a range of impressive and eye catching images all taken in places a photographer shouldn’t go with a camera. A worthy joint winner of best young blogger, considerate trespassing is sourced from an unnamed Leeds based male and undoubtedly captures the extraordinary from in and around Leeds.

Leeds might be the capital of all things commercial but its a commitment to culture, food and sport that quickens its heart. The quality of its blogosphere is a testament to a city on the up.

Top of the blogs: April 2013

30 Apr

Here’s our second snapshot of how our second year (L5) bloggers have been doing in terms of site visits. As you can see Rachel Flynn has flown into the lead, moving up seven places to take the number one spot. What’s more impressive is that Rachel has garnered 4000 visits in just four weeks. Lydia Taylor still occupies a very strong position, slipping to #2 but with a very impressive 1982 visits. Third spot is occupied by Henry Arnold, not even registered a month ago, who weighs in with 1904 visits. Anja Swan is in fourth with an increasingly impressive showing, coming from nowhere to register 1761 visits in a single month. The ever dependable Ryan Parrish is still very much in competition with 1021, although like a Leeds Utd’s cup run, he appears to stall before he reaches the summit.

There’s still one month to play for. All it takes is a few links in the right places, a cracking bit of content to go viral or a concerted campaign on social media. The winners will be announced in mid-may with the top sites subject to appropriate scrutiny, so keep it real people.

1. Rachel Flynn 4398
2. Lydia Taylor 1982
3. Henry O Arnold 1904
4. Anja Swan 1761
5. Ryan Parrish 1021
6. Natalie Casey 989
7. Ciara Mahoney 155
8. Helen Clarke 892
9. Jennifer Gibbon 761
10. Alexandra Price 761
11. Alice Booth 590
12. Chris Penellum 532
13. Ciara Mahoney 442
14. Alexander Almond 337
15. Maizie Cast 279
16. Ciamhne Boakye 274
17. Sophie DiMauro 224
18. Fern Crawley 221
19. Daisy Castle 153
20. Ewan Smith 61

Not yet listed: David Bowers, Alice Kidd, David Purcell, Charles Clarke, Chris Hitchins, Sally Humberstone, Daniel Whitelegg, Alex Harter

The latest issue of Leeds Metropolitan Business Review is now online

26 Apr

LMBR jan 2013

In this issue

Grace Neal hits the shops. Our insatiable retail correspondent gives here assessment of Trinity Leeds

Jack Carter sneaks in to the Leeds Arena

Louise Fletcher and Lauren Weldin get under the skin of the cutting edge of the Leeds fashion industry

Molly Dolan finds out just how employable you are

Charlotte Corner hangs out in the first office to be made entirely out of cardboard

Melissa Dyson discovers how the revamped East Coast Mainline will make Yorkshire a better place to do business

Emma Harris checks out the new entrance to Leeds Station

Sarah Cox, Jessica Thomas and Rebecca Welfle punch the numbers with their A-Z of finance in Leeds (yeah, that’s right, H is for happy hour)

Samantha McGarry and Charlotte Hemingway discovers the social side of enterprize

Grant Whalley puts himself in the picture (again)


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