#NETwitterati 2014: The North East social media influence list

The North East Twitterati has seen hundreds of people voting for people, organisations or bloggers who make the greatest impact on Twitter

NETwitterati 2014
NETwitterati 2014

The Journal launched a search for the North East’s Most Influential People on Social Media 2014 to discover who in the region is using the world wide web to shape the future of the North East.

The Twitterati list forms part of our Most Influential People in the North East list, the 2014 edition of which you can read here.

The North East Twitterati (#NEtwitterati) has seen hundreds of people voting for those people, organisations or bloggers who make the greatest impact on social media channels like Twitter.

These individuals have the capacity to influence, not just the decision makers in the region, but the men and women with their mobiles phones and iPads on the street.

This was the second year of #NETwitterati and we’ve again had hundreds of nominations and #NEtwitterati has been trending on Twitter.

See the full list below.

Charity/Community: Liz Luff

Newcastle freelance PR Liz Luff

Liz Luff, freelance PR
Liz Luff, freelance PR

Public relations has benefited greatly from the advent of social media. It is a quick and simple communications medium.

However, that ease of use, and its responsive nature, brings its own challenges.

Liz Luff is a freelance PR with clients including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation (@SBRFoundation) and Durham Heritage Coast (@DurhamCoast). She finds Twitter an essential, everyday tool.

She said: “Twitter has had an enormous impact on my work. There are more than 15,000 people following the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and to be able to reach that many of our supporters in an instant is incredibly useful.

“It’s also something that needs to be handled with care. Timing is everything in PR and one fundraiser announcing their intentions at the wrong time can mean the difference between well-planned, widespread media coverage for their efforts and well, the opposite of that.

“You need to be on top of it. Tweets are very much not confined to office hours and often require a quick reply and that is a responsibility.

“But I love that it’s such a responsive medium. To share news about work the Foundation has helped fund and then hear the positive reaction from supporters is very special.

“They help us spread the word about fundraising events and activities too. So in this very modern way, everyone’s pitching in to help and the charity continues to be, as Sir Bobby always described it, a team effort.

“And I have great fun with Twitter. As a freelance PR, I often work alone, but rarely feel alone. Dipping into Twitter’s like having a water cooler conversation with people from different strands of my life. It makes me laugh a lot.”


Mark ‘Run Geordie Run’ Allison, ultradistance runner and charity fundraiser – @RunGeordieRun

Sophie Gadd, online journalist at the Daily Mirror – @Sophie_Gadd

David Steel, head ranger of the Farne Islands – @NTSteely

George Caulkin, football writer for The Times and a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation – @CaulkinTheTimes

Galactic Keegan, Kevin Keegan on a distant planet in the year 2019 – @GalacticKeegan

Retail: Pink Boutique UK

Newcastle boutique @PinkBoutiqueUK

Alice Blackie, founder, Pink Boutique, Newcastle
Alice Blackie, founder, Pink Boutique, Newcastle

Alice Blackie, 26, the owner of online clothing site Pink Boutique has had some year.

After starting with an initial investment of £90, her business has swelled to a workforce of 40 staff selling more than 2,000 dresses a day. The business operates from a 30,000 sq ft site in Newcastle and ships its products right across the world.

“Some 95% of our sales come from social marketing, we’ve seen the business grow over 500% in the last year,” Alice said. “We have several engagement strategies that we use and we target our marketing as nobody wants to be spammed.”

As well as being named as part of the Twitterati, Alice was nominated for the Young Business Person of the Year 2014.

From starting out as a small online venture selling a few dresses through consumer site eBay, Pink Boutique has now become a global brand – a feat Alice puts down to social media, after amassing over 400,000 followers worldwide.

“We had a marketing plan where we could either go down the traditional marketing route or we could use the money to invest in recruitment for people who could do our social media. We chose to recruit and as a result we have seen a return of up to 80 times. It was a good decision!

“We get around 1,500 referrals from Twitter a day and we are growing on average by 200 followers per day. We have one social media assistant whose job it is to look after Twitter and Instagram and another social media assistant to look after Facebook.

“Social media marketing has gone so well for us, we hardly do any other type of marketing because the return in investment is nowhere as good as social.”

Networking: Helen Armstrong

Twitter-based business networking community #Northeasthour

Helen Armstrong
Helen Armstrong

As founder of the popular Twitter-based business networking community #Northeasthour, Helen Armstrong features in Twitterati for the second year running and remains among The Journal’s Most Influential People in Social Media.

Helen, a qualified non-practising solicitor with an MA in Law from Cambridge University, launched #Northeasthour on Twitter in August 2012, after coming up with the idea while working as a self-employed business development consultant.

Part of her work involves creating and managing social media profiles for her clients and she saw the need for a space for small businesses to shout about what they were doing.

Helen believes the premise of #Northeasthour is simple and is dedicated to promoting and supporting local businesses, causes and events of all sizes online, primarily on Twitter, but on other social media platforms too.

Helen started off dedicating an hour a week where people could tweet using the hashtag #Northeasthour, but it soon became so popular that it now runs twice a week and a new website will be launched soon.

Helen said her nominations in the North East Twitterati are really for #Northeasthour and she puts the success of the hashtag down to the fact that everyone treats it with equal respect and interest.

She has always maintained that the power of #Northeasthour is in joining many small voices join together, so that they are heard and people take notice. Helen maintains that the more interest #Northeasthour attracts, the better it is for everyone who actively participates.

Helen herself is a proliflic tweeter at @helensarmstrong. She lists fellow networking Twitter accounts @Inspirenetne, @thenortheastHUB and @Teamgeordie as her favourites to follow online.







Politics: Rachel Wearmouth

Newcastle journalist Rachel Wearmouth (@REWearmouth)

Rachel Wearmouth
Rachel Wearmouth

As the person tasked with tracking down the North East’s political news, using social media is an automatic reflex for ncjMedia’s Regional Affairs Reporter Rachel Wearmouth.

Twitter is where our movers and shakers go to share their thoughts and Rachel is fond of sticking her nose in whenever she can.

She regularly uses the site to share stories and can often be found live-tweeting political events to give followers a flavour of what is happening and why it’s important.

Her feed, @REWearmouth, has earned her a place among the NE Twitterati.

She said: “Whether I’m breaking news, looking for tip-offs, ranting about Question Time or boring people to death with updates on my Great North Run training, Twitter is part of everyday life for me.

“As a journalist, I don’t know how I’d do my job in 2014 without it, and, as someone who lives in and cares about the North East, I use it to gauge opinion and take part in debate.

“A lot of people berate Twitter as a bunch of people peddling mindless chit-chat, but in my view, they couldn’t be more wrong.

“Just look at the social media response when Lord Howell wrote-off large swathes of the North East as ‘desolate’ and ripe for fracking. Or when The Guardian made the frankly indefensible suggestion the region is ‘Britain’s Detroit’ and The Journal relaunched its 100 Reasons Why It’s Great Up North as a result.

“George Osborne’s father-in-law and The (London-based) Guardian would probably think twice before dismissing us again, and we have Twitter to thank for that.”







Business: Simon Hanson

North East FSB Simon Hanson (@FSBnortheast)

Simon Hanson
Simon Hanson

For a second year running, Simon Hanson, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) North East’s development manager, features in The Journal’s NETwitterati list.

The well-known face in the North East business community is a regular tweeter – sharing insight into his role; the issues FSB members face and perspective on political, economic and social events.

Simon said: “I use Twitter for personal and professional use. It’s fantastic to be able to get connected with people so immediately.

“Particularly for an organisation like the Federation of Small Business, Twitter is great for breaking down the traditional barriers between us and our members.

“It’s also really useful for us to get in front of Government ministers and raise our issues to them directly.

“When Twitter was in its infancy, it was more about one-off messages and statements, and I’ve certainly noticed a shift to a more conversational atmosphere. We encourage our members to be more conversational because it benefits them, in terms of leads, connections and visibility.”

Simon’s role takes him across the region on a daily basis, addressing small businesses’ needs, championing their position and amplifying their voice.

Followers tune in for bursts of information on his dealings with everyone from small shopkeepers to senior government ministers.

Simon encourages small businesses to use Twitter to build leads, make connections and raise their profile.

He said: “It’s not the easiest thing to see your return on investment in relation to – that’s why some companies can be put off by it.

“However, it’s completely changed the way organisations talk to the public. It used to be the case that organisations would turn to a press release to make an announcement – but that’s not always the case anyone.”







Networking: Donna Petch

Dr Donna Petch - @thenortheastHUB

Bruce Allinson Donna Petch
Donna Petch

The North East HUB was born from a small project idea Dr Donna Petch had after completing a three-year cancer research post in Leeds, and PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Sunderland.

After injecting lots of time, energy and dedication into the project, it grew quickly and fast became a full-time job.

Donna said: “My previous experiences with running several music festivals, promoting a band and taking part in social events helped build my knowledge and skills with social media and advertising.

“These skills I was able to implement immediately from the start of The North East HUB and grow the business quickly.”

The North East HUB works 24/7 (minus a few winks of sleep) to help raise the profile of the North East with the help of a large social media following, website and newsletters.

“I help businesses with their social media to advertising campaigns to consultations; my job is very exciting and I love it!”

“In three years The North East HUB has worked with over 700 North East businesses, events and charities, which is amazing. Also last year I expanded into the North West with The North West HUB.”

If that wasn’t enough, earlier this year Donna took over @NEFollowers on twitter and created #NEFollowers hour, a networking hour held every Thursday from 2-3PM, where local people can make connections and take part in weekly topics.

#NEFollowers has quickly joined the list of popular twitter hours.

“Social Media is a fantastic way to spread a message and when used in the correct way it can be invaluable,” adds Donna.

Donna’s top five recommendations are:






IT & Tech: Herb Kim

North IT and Technology expert Herb Kim (@herbkim)

Organiser Herb Kim at the Thinking Digital conference

A key figure in the North East and UK technology scene, Herb Kim is also a feature of this year’s #NETwitterati list.

The New York-born entrepreneur is the brains behind the internationally renowned Thinking Digital Conference – which grew out of Codeworks, the digital business group he used to lead.

The TED-inspired conference brings a cast of top international thinkers and innovators to Tyneside to discuss global trends in technology and science, and how those sectors are impacting on society.

Thinking Digital’s popularity has permeated North East boundaries, not least thanks to the huge Twitter activity it generates among its social-media-savvy audience and speakers.

Herb explained: “We were really fortunate to have set up Thinking Digital just as Twitter was beginning to take off. A lot of our speakers and audience were what they call ‘early adopters’ – which has meant the conference is always really visible on there.”

Herb tweets in a professional and personal capacity – and says he likes the way Twitter can support discussion of serious topics from politics to business.

On the evolving nature of the platform he said: “Nowadays, there is a fire hose of information on Twitter. I think it’s become a little hard to stand out from the crowd.

“In terms of connecting with people, Twitter is a really interesting case. In a lot of cases, a cold contact is more likely to respond to a tweet than an email. Of course, different people like to communicate in different ways, but I think that’s quite an interesting development over the last few years.

“In this fractured media market, there are lots of different ways to connect with people.”

Herb was recently appointed as board director Tech City UK, the organisation charged with accelerating the growth of digital businesses across the UK. The role will see him help to shape Tech City’s role in drawing together northern and southern technology clusters.







Networking: Lisa Donohoe

Port of Tyne PR Manager Lisa Donohoe

A view over the Port of Tyne
A view over the Port of Tyne

As public relations manager at one of the UK’s major deep sea port – Lisa Donohoe knows a thing or two about the complexities of communicating to a wide range of people.

Lisa has worked at the Port of Tyne for more than 11 years, across marketing and communications, helping to build the business’ profile in the region and across the world.

Twitter has provided a doorway to this type of exposure, and the Port of Tyne account has accrued all manner of followers – from Russian shipping companies to pilots in Barcelona.

Lisa said: “For the Port of Tyne, Twitter is helping us to connect with many and varied stakeholders – whether customers and prospective customers, or community groups and government ministers.

“It means we can, if we use it smartly, reach a targeted audience of people who are interested in what we have to offer. It’s also a good way to keep an eye on what’s happening in our market sectors and innovation.”

The Port has managed to secure retweets from some top accounts, such as the Prime Minister, Lord Sugar, as well as customers from around the world.

Lisa added: “Twitter is helping to maintain a good public profile for the Port of Tyne and the North East business community. It’s driving visitors to our website and is becoming an integral part of our communications strategy.

“We have thousands of followers all over the world, from pilots in Barcelona to shipping companies in Russia; from local schools to community groups we support.

“It’s been particularly successful with The Journal in promoting entries to the Reflect photo and film competition with a lot of rivalry going on between entrants on their Twitter feeds.

“We also make the social networks a vital part of trade and commercial business drives, using them to ensure we’re noticed and sought out at trade exhibitions or missions abroad.

“We’ve voted for accounts that use Twitter as a force for good to help develop the North East economy.”







Law: Muckle LLP

Newcastle law firm @MuckleLLP

Andrea Gibson, Business Development Manager at Muckle LLP
Andrea Gibson, Business Development Manager at Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP’s Twitter feed is managed by Andrea Gibson, business development manager for the leading Newcastle law firm.

Andrea manages Muckle’s online communications and was influential in the decision for the firm to start using Twitter two years ago. Part of her work involves creating and managing content for use across the social media platforms that Muckle uses.

Andrea said: “Law firms, by their very nature, can be reluctant to use social media due to worries about confidentiality and stating a complex point clearly in less than 140 characters.

“However, we considered this carefully, briefly trialled it internally and then hit the ground running. We have never looked back. It’s a key component of our communications strategy.”

@MuckleLLP is a representation of the firm’s personality; informative and fun. Yes, a law firm can be fun! This balance has been the key to our success.

Andrea added: “From the outset we had a structured content plan, mixing our news, views and events with those from others. The aim is to engage with our audience; combining timely legal updates with general Muckle activity; mentioning, thanking and involving our followers as much as possible. This mix of content has increased our following and allowed us to form some great connections.”







Networking: Darlo Biz

North East Darlo Biz (@DarloBiz)

Promoting Darlington businesses to the people of Darlington and beyond, to create a cohesive business community.

#DarloBiz is all about helping the organisations in Darlington to reach a wider audience via the internet and increase awareness of their services and products.

In October 2012, Anthony Davison approached Nicola Burt-Skinner to help him realise his vision of assisting businesses in Darlington harness the power of the internet and in particular social media to promote their business.

Within 48 hours, using her advance knowledge of social media and relevant platforms, the Twitter profile and Facebook was created and the hashtag #DarloBiz was born.

To date, they have thousands of members, tweeting, sharing and retweeting posts that contain the hashtag, so while you may think that your social media may not have a lot of impact – the collective efforts of all members is a force to be reckoned with.

#DarloBizHour was set up not long after and this is a concentrated hour on Twitter where members get together and retweet each other’s #DarloBizHour tweets.

They regularly reach over 100,000 Twitter users during this hour. That means 100,000 people who may not see your tweets usually might during the hour of madness.

To celebrate being named as one of the North East’s most influential accounts on Twitter, Nicola Burt-Skinner purchased the domain name for members/participants to have their own website and set up darlobiz.info, where all Darlington-based organisations – businesses, charities, community groups etc – can register details of their organisation, events and/or news.

But the future of DarloBiz depends on YOU! “We exist to serve you but equally your participation is required to make it work. Help us to help you and #Darlington-based organisations, by tweeting, retweeting and using the hashtag in your posts,” says @DarloBiz.







Tourism & Events: NGI

NewcastleGateshead Initiative (@altweet_pet)

Championing NewcastleGateshead and surrounding area to visitors at home and overseas on social media has won NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s destination feed @altweet_pet a spot in the The Journal’s North East’s Most Influential on Social Media.

@altweet_pet is the official visitor Twitter feed sharing the best of what to see, do and visit across Newcastle and Gateshead with updates about all of the area’s best tourist attractions, eateries, nightlife, entertainment and cultural venues.

Marc Burns, digital marketing manager at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said the Twitter account is just one of the many digital and social media platforms used by the organisation to help inspire visitors and locals alike and is used alongside content on NewcastleGateshead.com, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to show off what NewcastleGateshead has to offer.

The feed, looked after by a team of social media specialists, also answers questions from anyone looking for more information and retweets the best of what’s on Twitter about the area.

One of its biggest successes in the last year was encouraging more than 1,400 posts in one weekend, including pictures and reviews, by a group of visiting travel bloggers under the hashtag #TheTyneisNow.

Marc added that the aim is to have conversations with visitors and locals to help them have the best experience. He said: “As a destination, we are lucky to have some incredible activities to offer visitors all year round, we share posts by our hotels, shops, venues and events – to name just a few – ensuring we get the word out about how brilliant NewcastleGateshead is, to inspire and encourage more visitors to the destination.”







Environment: Northumberland National Park

North East twitter account @NorthumberlndNP

Northumberland National Park's hightlights - Sandstone Way. Images provided by Northumberland National Park Authority · Image shown: Autumn ride on the Sandstone Way, Northumberland National Park

The official twitter account for Northumberland National Park tops this year’s NETwitterati environment category.

The account caters for both tourists and local people.

It promotes rural and environmental services whilst allowing visitors an up-to-the-minute way of finding out about events across the park.

Northumberland National Park communications officer Frances Whitehead explained that Twitter has helped the park authority connect with vibrant local communities.

She said: “There’s a lot of energy and talent out there and it’s good to help them reach wider audiences for their endeavours.”

@NorthumberlndNP also allows visitors to the park to give feedback on their stay and share experiences immediately, before the moment passes. Followers tweet and share photos of Northumberland’s stunning views and abundant wildlife.

This visual aspect of the twitter account is particularly popular with followers, Ms Whitehead said, adding: “We’re so lucky to have visual impact with our beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

“Pictures of the National Park by day and our amazing starry skies at night are massive hits, and the images our followers contribute to our Twitter stream are some of the best.”

Autumn ride on the Sandstone Way, Northumberland National Park
Autumn ride on the Sandstone Way, Northumberland National Park
Sport: Mark Douglas

Newcastle United editor Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas)

Mark Douglas, NUFC editor of ncjMedia
Mark Douglas, NUFC editor of ncjMedia

The world of professional football has a bit of a sceptical attitude to social media. Players are fined for saying the wrong thing on there and there is a feeling among some managers and players that it is an open channel for fans to voice extreme opinions.

But Mark Douglas, the NUFC editor of ncjMedia, thinks that social media has been one of the most important and welcome developments in the sport for years.

“Football is really not sure about Twitter, I don’t think – but I absolutely love the medium. The stereotype of football fans shouting in some big virtual echo chamber is completely wrong. That accounts for about 1% of it,” he says.

“The rest is journalists, supporters, bloggers and observers who collate this huge bank of brilliant and interesting content about Newcastle United and the wider world of sport. As a journalist, I’ve found loads of the feedback you get on the things you write is invaluable.

“Basically, you can take the temperature of the public mood every day in a click. That’s brilliant.”

Formerly the chief sports writer of The Journal, Mark’s job changed over the summer to head up a dedicated Newcastle United team that now offers exhaustive coverage of the club both online, in print and – increasingly – over social media.

“Social media is a great tool. Last summer, we had a big Newcastle United fan Martin Trinder (@martintrinder) sending pictures of Remy Cabella actually in Newcastle after he’d signed.

“Now, we had covered the story from the start to the finish – and Lee Ryder had broken the news first and his stories were doing really well online – but it added something else to the package on that day.

“For breaking news, social media is invaluable.”


Lee Ryder, Chief Sports Writer of the Chronicle – @lee_ryder

Neil Cameron, senior sports writer for ncjMedia – @neilcameron5

Julien Laurens, respected French sports journalist – @LaurensJulien

Don Hutchison, The Journal’s star columnist – @donhutch4

Alnwick Harriers, the best running club in the North East – @alnwickharriers

Sport: Lee Ryder

Newcastle sport writer Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder)

Lee Ryder
Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder says that using Twitter for journalists is now as essential as using a notepad and pen.

He admits that in the opinionated world of Newcastle United Football Club that the social networking site is no place for the faint-hearted.

But without it, he feels that a journalist may as well wrap some sticky tape around their mouths and effectively put up a white flag when it comes to being part of the conversation.

The football and journalism world has moved on rapidly even in the last five years, let alone since the days when it was all about print and the only way fans could get points across was to write a letter into the newspaper office and hope it might make it into the paper.

These days, every fan and reader not only has an opinion, but the ultimate platform to share it with players and journalists.

Lee said: “I once overheard a football writer in the press room at St James’ Park saying: ‘Pah, Twitter, what a waste of time. You’re just making more work for yourself!’

“That was five years ago and Twitter just goes from strength to strength, it’s as valuable a tool to a journalist now as a pen and paper.”

Indeed, since Lee began reporting for ncjMedia in 2005, the entire outlook on how information, quotes and stories are shared has changed completely.

He said: “Covering Newcastle United these days is a live story. Every story I write now is a developing story.

“When I first started, you’d make notes on a Saturday and they’d sit on your pad over the weekend until Monday morning.

“Now, and quite rightly, the players might still be getting treatment on a knock and the news of their injury is already on Twitter and our websites.”

However, Lee also feels that it isn’t just about breaking news and reporting. He said: “It’s about building a rapport with the fans, players and other journalists. If people want to know why something was put together, the engagement level goes up a notch.

“We can talk to people and there’s suddenly a bond. We can instantly answer questions.”

One famous example was when Lee produced a piece about Michael Owen’s time at Newcastle.

Lee picks up the tale: “Michael didn’t agree with a few points I made in the piece.

“So we decided to do a sit-down interview. I was able to ask him questions about his time and he was able to use the Chronicle as a platform to tell his side of the story.”


Mick Quinn – @mickquinn1089

Michael Owen – @themichaelowen

Mirror Football – @Mirrorfootball

Sammy Ameobi – @Sammy_Ameobi

Opta Joe – @OptaJoe

Media: Anthony Vickers

The Gazette sports writer Anthony Vickers

Passionate Teessider Anthony is an award-winning football writer who follows the fortunes of Middlesbrough home and away for the Gazette.

Anthony has been penning his popular Big Picture column for 20 years and also writes an acclaimed and busy blog Untypical Boro that looks behind the headlines and delve into the issues fans are talking about.

And as well as working in print and online, Anthony is also a keen tweeter providing instant news and frank insight for almost 9,000 Boro-loving followers

“Twitter is a fantastic medium for journalists,” he says.

“It gives us an immediacy that print deadlines can’t, so we can still be first even when the paper is long gone and also we can keep up with developments elsewhere 24/7.

“The key is to integrate it with other platforms. In the past year or so, I have broken big news like the sacking of Tony Mowbray and a string of signings via Twitter, and created a viral interest that has driven traffic to the unfolding story on the website, well ahead of all other outlets.

“It has also enhanced our match coverage with thousands of fans who can’t get to the game, following the action and interacting with each other on the #borolive hashtag.

“It has helped engage with the audience in a very direct way too, answering questions from readers, pointing their browsers at our stories on the net and crowd-sourcing information and ideas for features that feed back into the paper.

“And of course, it allows a bit of personality to be stamped on our coverage with jokes, cynical quips and the odd howl of frustration showing a human side. I love Twitter. It’s great.”


@GazetteBoro –one-stop shop for all your Boro news

@miniboro_dotcom – gateway to a world of football artwork

@Redpeter99 – cynical ‘Old Labour’ commentary on the news

@shaunwilson71– constant supply of Boro stats and trivia

@guyrbaily – reading obscure tech and media sites so you don’t need to

PR: Ross Wigham

Ross Wigham, head of communications and marketing at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

Ross Wigham
Ross Wigham

Experienced communications man Ross Wigham is a keen user of social media of all types, but it is his tweeting that has landed him a place in The Journal’s #NETwitterati list.

The head of communications and marketing at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust says Twitter, among other social media, has dramatically changed the way people interact with public organisations such as the police, fire service and health service.

Ross is a former journalist who has previously worked for Northumberland County Council in a communications role. He says social media communication from organisations is now universally expected.

He said: “Twitter gives you a tool to engage with people in real-time. People love to have the opportunity to engage with professionals about their health – naturally it’s important to them.”

Part of Ross’ work involves using social media to reach out to health service users – keeping them informed and gathering feedback.

A recent NHS project demonstrated to Ross the scope for using social media to glean feedback.

He explained: “It’s traditionally very difficult to get new mothers to provide feedback on their time in hospital. Once they’ve had a baby and leave the hospital, it’s rare to hear from them again. Sending letters just didn’t create any responses, so the trust used Facebook and the response rate was great because it’s so much more accessible and immediate.”

Outside of work Ross says that he enjoys using Twitter for football chat.







Business: Journal Business

Journal Business (@jnlbusiness)

Journal Business is the authoritative provider of business news and analysis.

@jnlbusiness has 13,000 followers providing informative and intelligent articles with a focus on the North East but an outlook across the whole of the UK.

Led by Business Editor Graeme Whitlfield, the team aims to provide readers with the latest and comprehensive regional, UK and international business, finance, economic and political news, comment and analysis.

With insightful comment from business leaders of the North East, breaking stories and in-depth analysis @jnlbusiness informs throughout the day.

Arts & Heritage: Tyneside Cinema

Tyneside Cinema (@tynesidecinema)

The Gallery at Tyneside Cinema showing 20000 Days on Earth
The Gallery at Tyneside Cinema showing 20000 Days on Earth

Tyneside Cinema has proved the Twitter account of choice for culture vultures, having topped this year’s Arts and Heritage category. Tyneside Cinema has long been a favourite of North East film aficionados, and is known for the breadth of programming it offers. Whether you’re after blockbusters, quirky indie films or hard-hitting documentaries, Newcastle’s premier art house cinema hosts over 100 film screenings per week, and finds that Twitter is a useful tool to keep movie buffs informed of all its latest screenings and events.

The account also retweets its followers’ opinions on all the latest releases, making it a useful source of micro-reviews for anyone looking for inspiration for their next cinema trip.

It’s this balance between informing film buffs of its latest offerings and letting its audience speak for themselves and interact that press officer Anna Cornelius thinks is essential in why @tynesidecinema connects with movie lovers so well.

She said: “Twitter is a brilliant way for Tyneside Cinema to talk to our audiences – not just to tell them about the films that they can see here, but to listen to what they think of our programme and our much-loved cinema building, so we can keep working to make our customers’ experience even better.”

@tynesidecinema actively encourages audience interaction in a variety of ways. Twitter followers were given the chance to suggest classic ‘bar’ quotations for artist Graham Dolphin’s film-inspired mural in the Tyneside Bar Cafe earlier this year, but they’re not above more light-hearted initiatives.

Their request for ‘foodie film puns’ also proved popular, with top suggestions including Toastbusters and Get Starter. Such interactions sprinkle a healthy dose of fun into the account and keep their audience engaged. The cinema has also found that Twitter is a useful way to promote other facets of the organisation, such as free heritage tours of the building, the daily art programme in The Gallery and the recently-revamped Bar-Cafe and gather feedback.

Ms Cornelius continued: “We love that Twitter gives us the chance to hear directly from members of our audience online, whether that’s what people think of the films they’ve seen here, the menu in the Tyneside Bar Café or the art exhibitions in our new Gallery screen.”







Media: Peter Barron

Peter Barron (@EchoPeterBarron), Editor of the Northern Echo

Northern Echo Editor Peter Barron
Northern Echo Editor Peter Barron

Peter Barron, 52, has been working in the regional press for 35 years, starting his career as a trainee reporter with the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph.

He has been editor of The Northern Echo for the past 16 years, having earlier edited the Hartlepool Mail.

Peter was awarded the MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours “for services to journalism and North-East life”. He serves on the board of the National Council for the Training of Journalists and his numerous community roles include acting as the first ambassador for the Butterwick Children’s Hospice.

In the past two years, he has become a children’s author, with the Monstrous Morals series of books going into print. Five books have been published so far, with at least another seven to come.

In using Twitter, Peter tries to provide a mix of North East news, observations on North East life, useful information about the media industry, and daily updates on ‘The Headline Challenge’, which is played out every weekday morning between The Northern Echo and BBC Tees.

Peter tweets a light-hearted story each teatime, with the Echo’s chosen headline, and followers are invited to come up with something better. Entries are then opened up to radio listeners between 7.55am and 8.55am each morning, with points awarded to the winning headlines.

Peter said: “I really started with Twitter because I was afraid of being left behind and it’s now just part of my daily routine.

“I’ve always felt that being successful in the media comes down to building effective relationships and I see Twitter as a fantastic relationship-builder.

“It supplies me with stories, advertising leads, drives website traffic and helps sell newspapers. Why wouldn’t anyone involved in the media not use it?”

PR: Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall (@hallmeister), Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd

Sarah Hall, Managing director of PR and marketing agency Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd
Sarah Hall, Managing director of PR and marketing agency Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd

PR consultant Sarah Hall made the inaugural 2013 #NETwitterati shortlist and it’s no surprise to see her featured again.

An executive board member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and one of the first graduates of Google’s Squared digital marketing course, Sarah’s social media expertise has seen her appointed as one of Newcastle’s Digital Ambassadors, working with Go Digital’s wwWomen project to upskill female entrepreneurs in this area.

Helping organisations develop and manage corporate profiles on the most appropriate digital platforms is bread and butter for Sarah, who is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Vimeo and Youtube (keeping Facebook for personal use!)

It is perhaps Sarah’s informative, witty and no nonsense approach, combined with the top PR and marketing tips and articles she shares, that makes Sarah a popular person to follow, gaining her another place in The Journal’s North East’s Most Influential on Social Media supplement.

She said: “No business should be relying solely on traditional media relations. Social media is critical to business and companies ignore it at their peril – it’s no longer a new phenomenon but a tried and tested way to engage with customers and hear what they have to say.

“The best companies aren’t just using it as a way to advertise their products either. They are using it to enhance customer service and to gain insights into their target audiences and marketplace. It’s about being more competitive and ultimately profitable. With that in mind, you’d be foolhardy not to embrace it.

“Aside from all of that, if you like to meet and chat to people, there’s no better place to do it than on social media (and no one needs to know you're in your pyjamas either).”


Stephen Waddington – @Wadds – relentlessly produces content relevant to anyone wanting to succeed in PR

Howard Walker – @1howardwalker – a sense of humour that cheers you on the blackest of days

Janine Smith – @birthandbabyco – authentic and useful feed for anyone with babies and young children

Newcastle Airport – @NCLairport – it flirts with passengers. Enough said

Paul Smith – @paul_a_smith – says what needs to be said, even when people don’t want to hear it. We need more of that!


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer