Awards logos

Client Business Awards Update

What a great start to the year it’s been for two of my clients; The Family Law Company and Nourish, both shortlisted in legal and business awards.

In the latter part of 2018 I worked on five submissions with The Family Law Company for DASLS Awards 2019, visiting the offices in Exeter and Plymouth and meeting with four solicitors and legal execs. All had strong stories which made great submissions. I was delighted when they were all announced as awards finalists. The company was also shortlisted in Law Firm of the Year (1 – 10 Partners). All will be revealed on 4th April at Exeter Cathedral.

The Family Law Company was also shortlisted in the national Modern Law Awards, Boutique Law Firm of the Year. Winners will be announced on 31st January.

In a hat trick, I also entered the company for the Exeter Living Awards, in the Legal & Financial Category. The Family Law Company won this category two years’ ago, so it will be interesting to see if they can pull it off again! This awards event is on March 7th.

I have recently started working with a wonderful new client, Nourish of Topsham. Nourish is a zero waste provisions store in Topsham, just outside Exeter. Created with style and panache by the talented and dedicated Sarah Martin, it’s a fantastic proposition. We entered Nourish into two categories at the Exeter Living Awards: New Business and Retail. Nourish has been shortlisted in both. She’s also a finalist in the Venus Awards for New Business, not my doing and thank you to whoever nominated her!

I’m very excited that The Family Law has invited me to the DASLS Awards and Nourish is taking me to the Exeter Living Awards. Although it’s never about me but all about my clients, I do enjoy the chance to be there on the night and cheer them on.

Good luck!

Sue on sofa

Happy New Year

I can’t believe that another year has passed, and we’re into 2019. Old news I think – as it’s now January 7th (get over it, Sue). 2018 was quite a year for In The Right Order, with several new clients coming on board alongside my longer-term clients.

PR & Copywriting

I was delighted to secure some superb PR for clients. The highpoint was seeing Chilcotts featured on ITV Westcountry and in a number of local papers with a heartfelt story that fitted perfectly with the Armistice 100 celebrations. I undertook a quickie (!) for Acorn Ecology’s 15 year anniversary that resulted in some lovely coverage, and helped Exe Mortgages to up its profile in the local area. For Devondale Electrical Wholesalers, I enjoyed putting together case studies and PR for their successes and was proud to secure the first trade by-line for the MD. It was really good to work with Helen Bottrill of The Creative Business Network to make Escot’s first Artisan Market such a success. One of my favourite moments was receiving a copy of the Diespeker Magazine, which I worked on with agency Terra Ferma Media. Can’t beat print!

Awards

It takes a lot of work to get an awards submission right – I’m becoming a dab hand. Highlights included Norman Hartnell of The Family Law Company being named ‘Legal Hero’ Award in the Devon & Somerset Law Society Awards. Rusty Pig made the top three in the Best Restaurant Award at the Devon Life Food & Drink Awards (they didn’t win but we were definitely the loudest table). In London, Diespeker & Co won the Tomorrow’s Tile & Stone Awards and were finalists in the Southwark Business Awards. I was nominated (for the third time) myself in the 373 Group Awards. My belief is that being a finalist is almost as good as winning…

Social Media

It was an interesting year on social with Twitter flattening out and Facebook receiving a backlash due to Cambridge Analytica, amongst other shenannigans. As a result, ‘likes’ on pages slowed down. However, Facebook advertising is still proving a winner for many businesses, however and has certainly influenced bookings for one of my newest clients, Treaslake Farm Cottages. LinkedIn has increased in strength; sometimes I’m not sure it knows what it is but it’s a great place for referrals. Instagram continues its upward trend as illustrated by my teenage daughter glued to her iPhone last night. I’ve recently started boomeranging. Look it up.

Features

My visit to Simon Hulstone’s Michelen starred restaurant The Elephant (go, it’s brilliant) must be one of my favourite ever commissions from Devon Life (although not necessarily the 6am start with a visit to Brixham Fish Market). I spent a day in the restaurant kitchens learning about fish from Simon, and a fantastic lunch to boot. Other features over the year included Colyton Tannery, Segways at Escot House and my most challenging feature ever, for which I had to write about trends in sinks for Devon Home Magazine. My friends at Taste Buds Magazine sent me to review Occombe Farm Cafe, Duke’s Restaurant and the Lamb at Longdown. It’s a hard life.

Coming up

I’m looking forward to finding out what this year has in store. For starters, I’m thrilled to be working with my newest client, Nourish of Topsham, a zero waste provisions store flying the flag for a plastic free shopping experience – good things happening there. I’m hoping to write my next feature for Devon Life about a fabulous lady chef (hail to the chef). I have several awards nominations out and I’m chomping at the bit to find out if the clients have made the shortlist. And this year – maybe I’ll crack the Western Morning News Awards….

Happy New Year, here’s to 2019.

 

Awliscombe War Memorial

Armistice 100

Armistice 100 – a local story

I’ve heard many times recently that we’re in danger of forgetting about WW1 and the sacrifices made by so many.

A recent project I undertook for Chilcotts Auctioneers meant that one local family’s sacrifice is being remembered again – just in time for Armistice 100.

Earlier in the year, medals belonging to two brothers from Awliscombe arrived at Chilcotts to be auctioned. Chilcotts discovered that although both were killed during the First World War, only one brother was commemorated on the War Memorial in the village.

George Hine

Private George Hine of the 8th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment, was killed during the early days of the Battle of the Somme. His name appears on the Awliscombe War Memorial as well as the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

James Hine

James served in India with the Volunteer unit 2/4th Battalion, also of the Devonshire Regiment. He survived active service and was discharged but died in August 1916. James was given a Commonwealth War Grave in Awliscombe churchyard. This indicated that the War Commonwealth Graves Commission (CWGC) believed he died from an illness contracted whilst on active service. His name wasn’t included on the memorial, however, because he wasn’t actually on active service when he died.

Righting a wrong

Chilcotts felt this was an injustice, because although James didn’t die in action his death was a direct result his service during the war. So I wrote a press release, suggesting that James should be added to the War Memorial. The story was seen by Cynthia Underdown, great niece of the brothers. She bought the medals when they were auctioned and determined to right the wrong.

Awliscombe Parish Clerk Sally Maynard helped the process along with the Parish Council and the War Memorials Trust. No objections were raised to the addition of James’s name and Cynthia contacted AG Real & Son Monumental Stonemasons to carry out the work. They insisted on carrying out the work or free, as a special tribute to local people who had fought in the war.

I put together a second press release with the update, with photos I’d taken of everyone at the war memorial.

However, the story seemed so poignant and relevant that I contacted the ITV newsroom. They loved it and have filmed a piece for their Armistice coverage. What a wonderful outcome!

James and George HineBob Cruwys filming Duncan Chilcott and Cynthia Underdown

Acorn Ecology Team Photo by Andrew Butler

Celebrating 15 years – PR for Acorn Ecology

Celebrating 15 years

As well as working for retained clients I enjoy providing ad hoc PR and one-off project-based services (see a previous blog to find out more).

Recently my marketing associate, Hannah Thomson put me forward to help with PR for Acorn Ecology’s 15 year anniversary celebrations. I’ve known of Acorn Ecology for some years, and I have met founder Sue Searle at various networking events. So, it was a pleasure to hop on board to work with them for this project.

Sue set up Acorn Ecology in 2003 to provide ecological services to home owners, architects, developers and local authorities. Branches opened in Bristol and Guildford in 2014 to expand the geographical scope of the work of the company and bring new expertise to the team. In 2018, the business provides expert wildlife information for protected species such as bats, badgers and dormice. It is also one of the top training centres in the UK for ecology courses.

To celebrate the milestone, Acorn Ecology hosted a celebration at their premises in Westpoint.

Always key to such an event is photography. The talented Andrew Butler was available and as usual came up with the goods;  shots of Sue on her own, with her team, with the guests and some images of the event taking place. The celebration included an interview with Sue, conducted by Cathy Towers, which informed the resulting press release.

The result was some nice coverage in Western Morning News, Exeter Living, Exeter Daily and Devon Life. At the same time, alternative press releases were sent to Guildford and Bristol media where the business has satellite offices.

And sometimes with a one off contract – there’s more to come. Another associate, Sharon Goble (who knows everyone there is to know in the local media) flagged Acorn Ecology up to Spotlight’s environmental correspondent, so hopefully we’ll see them talking bats on the TV sometime soon!

Feature writer Segway Safari

Segway or bust – feature writer

Feature writer

Alongside my PR service, I am an occasional feature writer for Devon Life.

I’ve written about many different subjects over the years, and interviewed some interesting Devon folk. But possibly my favourite features are those that involve an ‘experience’.

So far I’ve been horseriding after a break of many years, gone gliding with the Devon & Somerset Gliding Club, flown into the clouds to watch skydivers leap from a plane (I was offered a jump, but had to decline) and, my most recent experience, tried a Segway Safari.

I pitched the idea as part of the magazine’s ’13th edition’ and was delighted to have it accepted. The Segway Safari runs at Escot Estate, an area I know well from dog walking and from the work I do with Escot House. Devon Country Pursuits is the onsite company offering the experience, along with numerous other activities including paintball, laser tag, interactive treasure hunt, archery and clay shooting.

Segway Safari

This was such good fun, and we were blessed with a lovely day in late May, when the bluebells were still very much in evidence in the park. Andrew Butler came along as feature photographer, and appeared to relish the chance to ride a Segway himself. We had a great morning that included a training session and the Safari itself.

Andrew chose his spots for photographs, whilst instructor Max and I attempted to pose for the camera without falling off.

Segway is surprisingly relaxing and exhilerating at the same time. It’s an activity that I would be tempted to do again.

You’ll have to pick up a copy of the magazine to read the full experience.

Devon Country Pursuits loved the article, and suggested next time I try quad biking… watch this space.

Segway feature writer

Diespeker Magazine

Hot off the Press – the Diespeker Magazine!

There’s been a lot of talk about the death of print since the digital era began. Newspapers are closing – or at the least, shrinking, magazines are folding and online publications becoming ten-a-penny. But there’s nothing like print, you can’t beat a quality publication.

I grew up with the Twinkle comic as my main weekly reading material, gravitating to Jackie then the fabulous Cosmopolitan magazine. My dad read the Express and the Telegraph, my mum the Daily Mail. I, being a bit of a socialist, turned to the Guardian, devouring its alternative take on the world. I’m still a fan today.

I’ve been a writer throughout my career. My ambition was to write for magazines, but I only started after a move to Devon and career change into PR, when I began writing occasional features for Devon Life. I’m now on the contributors list. Made it.

But what of print in the corporate world? In the good old days I wrote copy for company brochures, manuals and leaflets. But what company has a corporate brochure now? Everyone has a website where up to date information is easily accessed by potential customers and clients. I’ve seen many annual reports, but not many glorious glossies celebrating the successes of a business.

Fast forward to January 2018.

I was asked by agency Terra Ferma Media to be the content editor for a magazine they were producing for Diespeker & Co. I couldn’t possibly say no. I manage Diespeker’s PR, so I know the company very well. Working to TFM’s flatplan, I scoured the content I had from the past two years, cherry picking the very best stories and repurposing them. I generated new content, via interviews and tracking down project stories. I worked like a demon to meet the deadline, while the design team worked on the overall design, and pulled together images to illustrate the content.

Finally, it was ready and the magazine went to print. There was then a lull, and then, a huge surge of excitement, as the magazine was presented to the MD. I was dying to see it. Finally, my copy arrived with a fanfare (well from me, anyway). It’s fabulous, a really beautifully produced magazine that people will actually want to pick up and read. I’m a very proud copywriter.

There are a limted number of printed copies, and of course the magazine is available online. If you want to take a peek you can order a digital copy here.

Magazine pageMagazine page

 

 

 

 

Legal Hero Norman Hartnell

A True Legal Hero

Awards Success – Legal Hero

Last year’s Devon and Somerset Law Society (DASLS) Awards were a great success for The Family Law Company. Three solicitors won their categories, and we made much use of the term ‘hat-trick of awards’. They were all female solicitors and this added to the kudos – law remains a male-dominated sector.

Fast forward to this year’s awards. Of the two submissions I worked on, the first was for Plymouth solicitor Derek Jordan who is a rock for difficult domestic violence cases. I spoke to Derek at length and felt humbled by his commitment to standing up for vulnerable clients.

The second submission was for Norman Hartnell. Norman is the founder and Managing Director of The Family Law Company – his ethos underpins the company’s refreshing attitude to family law. Norman is the last to blow his own trumpet, so the submission was carried out in secret. His colleagues asked me to enter him for the Legal Hero category.

I spoke to people at length to gather information and everyone had nothing but praise for him. His commitment for the past 25 years (and more) has been to turn family law from a combatative process to one that attempts to keep couples amicable. This is especially important where there are children involved.

The submission seemed strong to me, but you never can tell with awards. The judges decision, as they say, is final.

The Legal Hero award was to be announced on the night, so there was no shortlist. I could only keep my fingers crossed. I was delighted that Derek was shortlisted, particularly as his area of work is by far and away a less ‘glamorous’ area of law.

Unfortunately, the heavy snow we experienced in the South West in March scuppered the original awards event. It moved to May and Norman was unable to attend, as he was on holiday. However, the team FaceTimed him with the news that he had been announced as DASLS Legal Hero 2018. There were certainly a few tears shed.

Although Derek didn’t win on this occasion, he was acknowledged as a finalist. I am hopeful that he will win on another occasion, as he thoroughly deserves to.

Legal Hero DASLS AwardsWell done to Norman. Having worked with The Family Law Company for several years and been touched by family law issues in my own life, I agree with everyone, you are a true Legal Hero.

The award was collected on Norman’s behalf by Rachel Buckley and Stephen Sowden.

Post-awards news report here.

 

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Ad Hoc PR Support

Although I work with the majority of my clients on a retained basis, I also offer an ad hoc PR support service.

This type of service is perfect for a one-off project, which could be:

  • Website copy
  • Brochure copy
  • Setting up social media
  • Temporary social media management for (eg) maternity cover
  • Awards entries
  • Blog writing

Retained or ad hoc?

The benefit of working with retained clients means I have the opportunity to get to understand their business thoroughly. As the relationship builds, so does the trust – and the client can clearly see that the service is meeting – and hopefully exceeding – their expectations.

With an ad hoc service, it’s more a case of having to very quickly understand the culture of a company, get their tone of voice straight away, and to present them as they wish to be seen. Having worked in so many sectors over the years means I am often able to jump feet first into a project. On the odd occasion it takes a few stops and starts to get it right.

Examples of recent ad hoc PR support

  • In the latter part of 2017 I took on a three-month contract with Dartmoor-based company Directions to manage social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for three accounts based in Suffolk – two hotels and a pier! Now that was a challenge, as I never had the opportunity to see the businesses I was representing. After a week or two of tentatively feeling my way, I got into my stride. By the end of the contract I believe I had enlivened all the accounts and left them in a positive shape to be managed in-house.
  • I worked with Ross Pollard at bathroom and kitchen designer Vision Installs to sort out his website, which had been half-way finished for longer than he wanted. I tidied the existing content, wrote new content and created case studies. The website became one that Ross felt able to point potential clients to.
  • I’ve helped Griffin Chartered Accountants with blogs, press releases and most recently, an awards submission. We’ve yet to find out if they have made the shortlist, but Griffin gave me so much quality information to work with, that I’d be surprised if they don’t. Griffin are featured in my portfolio as I work from them on an occasional rather than one-off basis.
  • Website company Cloudberry Digital needed blogs for some of their client websites. These are mainly food and drink based, so I had fun researching a variety of foodie companies and products. I always feel writing a blog should be much more than an SEO exercise, a blog should be written to be read.
  • I’ve also written press releases for a variety of small businesses including Exminster Garage, Baking Matters, Barrel Tops and Gleave Media.

What’s next?

If you are interested in dipping your toe in the water, using an ad hoc PR support service is a good way of finding out a) if we click and b) if you get value for money. You can then decide on whether you want or need to move into a retained client service. For more information please contact me.

 

Snow on River Otter

Snow go!

Snow in Devon

Like most people in the country, experiencing snowfall that banks up and snows you in, is not a usual occurence. I had been watching the weather reports with interest, and while I slightly poo-pooed the coming armageddon (I refuse to call it emmageddon), I was also sensible, stocking up on logs for the woodburner and checking I had oil in the tank, and fuel in the car.

When the blizzard struck in the afternoon, it wasn’t unexpected. I had cancelled a meeting earlier in the day ‘just in case’, which transpired to be a reasonable decision to have taken.

As happens every time with major snowfall in Devon (the last being 2010), everything suddenly ground to a halt – well, after Tesco had been emptied of bread and milk. We do always seem to panic when there’s no bread or milk, don’t we.

Social media

As the weather worsened I saw lots of businesses shutting and letting people know on Twitter and Facebook. I called my clients with retail businesses and cafes to see if they were closing, and added updates on social media. One was just about to close, others were soldiering on. The following day, however, all of them were closed – bar the amazing Tickety-Boo where chef Dave was holding the fort.

Home working

Working from a home office has its benefits. Many people were unable to get to their place of work, but for me all that was required was to switch on the desktop and carry on regardless. Until the power cut, that is. Living in a rurally located village in East Devon does mean that I am slightly beholden to the vagaries of the power supply – the lines don’t always bear up in extreme weather. A number of villages in the immediate area were affected, others elsewhere.

No phone, no desktop, a laptop with limited battery life – at least the mobile gave me contact with the outside world. We’re fortunate in having a woodburner and LPG gas supply as well as electricity and oil, so the house, and office, remained warm. Now, I can always write, power or no power, so I started on a feature for a magazine. But then things took a different turn – I decided to check on an elderly neighbour and tramped through the snow with a flask of tea, only to discover he had no heat at all, his being all electric.

On a day like that, work can take a back seat. I stopped trying to get anything done and made a number of trips to the neighbour, with hot water bottles, blankets and soup (many other people were also busy helping neighbours in need, or taking supplies to people stuck in cars). I ‘forced’ my housebound teenagers to come for walks with me in the snow, which they, after grumbling, loved.  My dogs had a field day.

The upshot was that I had to work at the weekend to catch up. Well that’s life, I often work at the weekend, so I just did more. It’s been a peculiar few days, but it’s just a few days.

And yes, when I nipped into Tesco after the thaw set in, there were more people there than during the Christmas rush. All buying bread, and milk.

Teenager in snowPickle in snowSaffy in snow

London PR for Diespeker

London Calling – London PR

I’ve been working with agency Terra Ferma Media for five or so years as an associate. Initially managing social media for a number of their clients including Ellenborough Park, Mantis Travel and (my favourite for kudos alone) Bear Grylls Survival School, they then asked if I could write the copy for their client Diespeker & Co’s new website. Naturally I said yes! This led to an invitation to handle the PR for the London natural stone and terrazzo company, which I leapt at.

Three years’ on and last night, an email landed in my inbox. The client wanted to tell his outsourced marketing team that his turnover had doubled over the last year and that he was extremely excited by this news! As was I, of course.

Impactful

There’s little doubt that the work we’ve all been putting in has had a significant impact on the success of the business. Diespeker’s website, when it launched, was – and still is – way ahead of competitor websites in terms of content and style. We add regular news updates and the stories we tell are not only about projects, but Diespeker’s supported charity (Stem4) and MD John Krause’s exploits as a marathon runner.

I was really pleased in November when Diespeker won Manufacturer of the Year at the South East Manufacturers Awards. Although I wrote the submission, the proof is in the pudding – the work that Diespeker is doing with bespoke terrazzo is unequalled by any other manufacturer in the UK.

The future

We’re about to embark on a company magazine, which I’m delighted to be editing. I know we’re entrenched in digital, digital, digital, so it’s lovely to be working on a print publication for a change. There’s also going to be a launch later this year, of an offshoot business aimed more at the luxury interiors market. Can’t wait!

It’s a privilige to be working with Diespeker & Co, to be part of the company’s journey to greater and greater success.

Yet, although I love my visits to London, the buzz of the Smoke and seeing old haunts (we passed by a flat I once lived in, in Streatham, on my last visit), I also love returning to Devon. It’s always fascinating taking the train, and watching the regular commuters in their daily routine. I have the best of both worlds, I think.