WHAT IS MAKING THE HEADLINES?

£150M FOR BROADBAND MUST ATTRACT THE MAXIMUM MARKET INVESTMENT IN OUR INFRASTRUCTURE

£150M FOR BROADBAND MUST ATTRACT THE MAXIMUM MARKET INVESTMENT IN OUR INFRASTRUCTURE

CEO of Belfast based B4B Group, Dominic Kearns, has said the Government must use the £150m agreed between the Conservative government and the DUP in their confidence and supply deal, to ensure the correct investment environment is created to see the maximum benefit for our economy and competitiveness as a region.

“We must insure that we create an environment that attracts the most market investment possible for the region. The broadband infrastructure market is changing so much so that investors are switching focus back to the sector in the hope of returns in the longer term.

Effectively investors see this as a new telecoms infrastructure which will future proof the sector for as long as 25 years. With the reliance on high speed connectivity for both the consumer and business, the battle for market share is going to be interesting.”

Operators are now investing in full fibre infrastructure, a change that will see the replacement of the existing copper based services. The UK and Irish market has seen an increase in operators building new fibre infrastructure in the hope of catching up with European counterparts.

“Our coverage of fibre pales in significance to some of our European counterparts. This £150m of funding is a massive step in the right direction, but I would like to see a plan to connect every property in Northern Ireland to future-proofed, full fibre broadband as a result of this stimulus.

In addition to using the budget wisely, we need Government locally to continue to reform and remove barriers to broadband rollout to ensure that Northern Ireland remains well connected and able to compete in a global digital economy.

Other devolved regions are currently in the process of passing legalisation to allow for fibre tax relief in the short term and if we want to attract the same investments we need to ensue this replicated here.

We would also be concerned around the prospect of having to spend this amount of money within 2 years. To scale for a project of this size in Northern Ireland it will require our industry to plan and train resources required to deliver it. Operationally it is widely accepted the project could take up to 5 years to deliver.”

 

FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR LOCOMOTIVE 131

FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR LOCOMOTIVE 131

An historic steam engine which last operated in the early 1960s is back in business, thanks to a five-year restoration by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland at Whitehead.

Former Great Northern Railway (Ireland) express engine No. 131, which dates from 1901 and was built for the Belfast-Dublin line, has been officially launched back into service.

The £400,000 project received funding support from GROW, Generating Rural Opportunities within South Antrim, through the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007–2013, which is part-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union.

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INVITATIONS ARE OUT FOR ABIGAIL’S PARTY AT THE MAC

INVITATIONS ARE OUT FOR ABIGAIL’S PARTY AT THE MAC

A revival of Mike Leigh’s acclaimed play, Abigail’s Party takes to the stage in the MAC Belfast in April. A biting, hilarious, disco-infused satire of British suburbia in the 70’s, this is one of the most iconic stage plays of the 20th century.

A new MAC production starring Belfast actress Roisin Gallagher as Beverly, Abigail’s Party will open for a three-week run from 14 April until 5 May 2018.

From a time when the height of urban sophistication was cheese and pineapple on a stick, served nonchalantly on a Lazy Susan, comes a tragi-comedy about social climbing, prejudice and fear of not doing ‘the done thing’.

The production is directed by Richard Croxford with an ensemble cast featuring Brigid Shine, Will Irvine, Craig Miller and Imogen Slaughter during a cocktail party which Beverly and her husband Laurence are hosting for their neighbours. The evening is fuelled by plenty of alcohol, an array of savoury bites and olives, and Donna Summer on the record player. But as prejudices are unmasked and tempers flare, Beverly’s perfectly planned evening unravels before her eyes.

The award-winning writer and director Mike Leigh called his play “both a celebration and a lamentation of how we are”, because this isn’t just a play about 1970s Britain, it’s a peek into the frustrations and struggles endured by everyone who has ever floundered and grasped their way through life.

Commenting on the production Simon Magill, Creative Director at the MAC, said: “We’re delighted to be producing Mike Leigh’s bitingly acerbic play at the MAC this spring, perhaps introducing to many that which is familiar to a whole generation of us, thanks, partly, to its legendary 1977 ‘Play for Today’ production on BBC1.”

Tickets for Abigail’s Party are now on-sale.

JOIN PIZZA PUNKS AS IT BRINGS ‘ANARCHY IN THE OVEN’ TO BELFAST!

JOIN PIZZA PUNKS AS IT BRINGS ‘ANARCHY IN THE OVEN’ TO BELFAST!

Belfast is set to welcome a pizza revolution that will shake up the Cathedral Quarter next month and you will want to be a part of it!

 

Pizza Punks is an artisan and wood-fired pizza eatery with a difference. Its philosophy is simple: giving choice and value to their customers. You can have anything you want on your pizza at no extra cost., that’s right, unlimited toppings for one flat fee. Anarchy, right?

 

Pizza Punks has become famous for its legendary artisan wood-fired pizzas, their Sourdough base is handmade on site every day and proved for 24 hours for maximum flavour. Boasting a range of bases and unique toppings to suit every taste (vegan, gluten free and Halal). Its giant wood burning oven will also be front and centre in the new venue, so you can see first hand your creation coming to life.

 

Plus, it doesn’t stop at pizza! Pizza Punks is set to cause a stir with an incredible drinks menu on offer. Retro ice cream floats? Got it. Champion cocktails? Yup. Those crazy Insta-famous freak-shakes? Of course. All of that along with wine on tap, and a great selection of craft beers all served up alongside a great soundtrack – there really is something for everyone including the little punks in your life who can create their own pizza and ice cream from their own children’s menu.

 

The punked up look and feel of the Cathedral Quarter venue marks a new spot for locals, inviting the food lovers of Belfast to come in and hang out amongst the neon signage, wooden worktops and unique atmosphere. If that wasn’t enough, Belfast Street artist, Visual Waste is jumping onboard as a collaborator to punk up the interior even more.

 

The Pizza Punks team have created the perfect combination of menus for every occasion, whether it’s a brunch date, grabbing a slice on your lunch break, or a full-on pizza party with your crew they’ve got it covered.

 

Launching in April, stay in the know by following Pizza Punks Belfast on Facebook.

 

Power to the people, we say.

RUMOUR MILL GOES TO AFRICA

RUMOUR MILL GOES TO AFRICA

Rumour Mill recently appointed Hope365 as its charity of the year. Undertaking amazing work in Ethiopia, team member Laura Scott tells us all about her trip with the charity to Africa to see first-hand the work being done:

Shashemene was my destination, which is a five-hour drive from the capital of Ethiopia, Addis. We set off on Saturday ahead of Pancake Day, but unfortunately our arrival wasn’t plain sailing. Our arrival was during a time of political unrest, which had a significant impact on the amount of time we had left to carry out everything we set out to achieve. We were advised to stay indoors for approximately half of our trip, but thankfully with the help of staff from the centre, as well as local authorities we managed to make it to the Tesfa Manoriya Bota centre almost every day of the trip.

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£500,000 INVESTMENT SEES PIZZA PUNKS LAND

£500,000 INVESTMENT SEES PIZZA PUNKS LAND

April 2018 will see Pizza Punks travel across the water and open its first Northern Ireland venue in the buzzing Cathedral Quarter. Hailed as the ‘proper pizza’ lover’s eatery, Pizza Punks has invested over £500,000 into its new premises at the converted Longbridge House on the corner of Waring and Hill Street in Belfast city centre; creating up to 30 new jobs.

The self-proclaimed pizza ‘revolutionaries’ are confident they are bringing something new to the city.

Pizza Punks opened its first outlet two years ago in Glasgow, courageously placing it in the renowned ‘burger strip’. Proving all the sceptics wrong, it has shown to be a huge success, thanks to its unique proposition –  you can have as many toppings as you like for the same price.

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CHARITY OF THE YEAR – HOPE 365

CHARITY OF THE YEAR – HOPE 365

 

Let us introduce our Charity of the Year for 2018…

Hope365 is an organisation that aims to rescue children from the streets of Shashemene, Ethiopia. There are between one and two thousand boys – some as young as seven who have no alternative but to sleep independently on the streets of Shashemene each night.

What do they do?

Hope365 aims to rescue these children and provide them with love, food, a place to sleep, as well as offering education and skills for life. Hope365 works with the government in Ethiopia, who refer on some of the boys that are in the most horrific positions. These children are brought to the Tesfa Manoriya Bota (Hope Home) centre where the Hope365 team, including psychologists and social workers, set about finding a long-term solution that suits each child that arrives at the home. Some are on the streets due to poverty, for others they may have been trafficked, while others are orphans with no one to look after them.

 

Michael Holmes, Chief executive of Hope365 said: ” I am delighted that Rumour Mill has offered its services to help raise the profile of Hope365.

 

“Hope365 relies so much on the time that others put in and people do this in so many different ways; some have contributed by donating items to our charity shops, baking and hosting bake sales to raise funds for us, others by using their photography hobbies to create calendars in aid of the charity, others offer monthly donations to offer financial help directly – there are endless ways to be involved in our team. We have lots of great stories like these to tell, and we’re appreciative that Rumour Mill can help us tell them.

 

“As there is such a huge need among the Street Kids in Ethiopia, most of our efforts are focused on trying to help improve their lives. As a relatively new local charity we simply don’t have the resources or expertise to be able to effectively communicate the good news stories from Ethiopia and the amazing generosity of the people in our country. Rumour Mill’s input is a real game changer for us.”

 

The Hope365 team has managed to rescue and reunite 22 children with their biological family during 2017 and expect to reunite approximately twice that number in 2018.

 

For the orphaned kids they offer the next best thing to a biological family, by creating small “family” homes where a maximum of eight children can grow together in a normal domestic house with specially trained house parents. The first of these family homes will be opening later this month, housing six children – the youngest of whom is approximately seven and the oldest around eleven. Having lived on the streets for so long the boys don’t know their age or even their birthday.

One of the Rumour Mill team will be visiting Shashemene early next month and will have the opportunity to see how the boys are settling into their new home.

We will be posting updates on her trip via our website and social media.

Learn more about Hope365 by following them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hope365Ethiopia/

Check out their website: http://www.hope365.co.uk/

 

 

 

PEEKABOO, INSTAGRAM CAN SEE YOU!

PEEKABOO, INSTAGRAM CAN SEE YOU!

We gauged public opinion on the recent revelation that Instagram now allows users to see when their friends were last active. Find out what our followers thought of this new feature.

Instagram stayed rather quiet over the weekend, as they gently rolled out a new update which focuses on increased visibility of users. With new social media platforms popping up fast – you would wonder how much more can be added to increase visibility even further?

Well Instagram has found a way – presenting the ‘Last Active’ feature.

Instagram now allows your friends and followers to track when you last used Instagram. When sending stories or direct messages, you’ll notice that beside their username, in grey writing you can now see when they were last active – the times are very precise, ranging from “active now”, “active 32 minutes ago” to “active yesterday”.

This won’t be a ground-breaking update for you if you use Facebook messenger or Whatsapp, as you should be used to that by now. However, this adds Instagram to the list of places where other people can monitor your activity heavily.

If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling Instagram as a de-stressor throughout the day, but don’t quite have the brain power to respond to your messages, we have good news. You can deactivate this feature easily to ensure that others (like your boss) can’t track your usage and send those nagging “Get back to work” or “I know you’re online…?” messages.

Step 1: Open your settings via the three little dots in the top right-hand corner

Step 2: Scroll down to “Show Activity Status”

Step 3: Click on the toggle to ensure that you have freedom to scroll, without feeling obligated to respond to messages immediately.

Voila! – you’re now free to live a semi-private life through Instagram again – sharing only what you choose to share, which likely doesn’t include your low-key addiction to scrolling.

 

How do you feel about Instagram’s new updates?

Instagram Poll

We asked our Instagram followers if they were aware of this new update, and 50% of our followers had no idea that Instagram was sharing their activity with others. Of those who had already heard about the update, 100%* of them had found out via friends/websites or blogs – no one found out through Instagram’s own news or social media pages.

This introduces the argument that new features like this one should be heavily advertised

to ensure users are aware of changes. It also poses the idea that new features like this one should automatically be inactive when updated, and Instagram should prompt us to turn it on if we wish.

We asked our followers if they would have chosen to share their visibility had they had the

choice; 69% of people voted asking for more space, disagreeing with this new feature. Researching further the 39% of followers who didn’t mind sharing their visibility, we found that this correlated with a higher follower count, as well as those accounts using Instagram as a business or blogger.

With more updates to come in 2018, we found this insight very interesting. Instagram seems to be verging towards more of a marketing platform – allowing for marketers, brands and businesses to seamlessly merge onto users feeds without much evidence. This is good news for businesses, but could increase the scepticism for casual users who enjoy Instagram as an escape from the marketing stance that Facebook displays.

Stay tuned for future Instagram advances and find out what they could mean for you and your business.

*This figure was correct as of 3pm 23/01/2018

DIGITAL TRENDS FOR 2018

DIGITAL TRENDS FOR 2018

2017 was certainly a year of development in the digital sphere in terms of hardware and software. As a marketer, it is vital to be aware of new technological innovations and how new tools will impact the relationships between a brand and the consumer.

2018 will mark a more pronounced shift in the world of digital marketing and with more advancements brings more pressure for companies to adapt to this ever-evolving landscape or risk being left at the bottom of the theoretical ‘digital dump’. The public are now seeking more integrated experiences and this year, emerging technologies opens new doors for brands whilst also presenting renewed challenges.

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POP NOTCH SIGNS NEW DEAL WITH VALEO FOODS

POP NOTCH SIGNS NEW DEAL WITH VALEO FOODS

Lisburn-based food distributors, Valeo Foods, is delighted to be appointed sole distributor for local producers, Pop Notch, and its unique range of popcorn across Northern Ireland. This new partnership will support Pop Notch’s growth within the local market and through additional marketing open it to new international markets.

Pop Notch brought something new to Northern Ireland in 2013, starting when the McBride family had a little craving for a more gourmet style of popcorn than we’re used to here. They started small at their kitchen table, with an air popper and the ingredients for caramel, which they bought at their local shop.

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