medals

Under the Hammer

Managing PR for Chilcotts Auctioneers, an independent auction house based near me in Honiton, gives superb storytelling opportunities. I love the chance to really research auction lots and discover their back stories.

Recently, like the proverbial buses, three came along at once. The challenge was on to write engaging press releases for each and distribute them in the month up to the sale on June 1st.

The first story required lots of research, as it concerned RAF medals and log books, documents, uniforms and photographs from WW2 fighter pilot Group Captain Peter Casement, who flew with both Bomber Command and Coastal Command. His was a fascinating story; he was one of the few pilots to have seen service throughout WW2, and during the Battle of the Atlantic the bomber he piloted was the first to bring back photographic evidence of the sinking of a U-boat.

The combination of his medals and an extensive archive of materials including his flying jacket, gloves and boots, several sets of uniform, photographs and RAF training manuals were sold as one lot. The auction estimate was between £10,000 to £15,000. The story gained lots of interest, and the hammer price reached £21,000.

Bomber plane

The second story was a set of 19th century German Orders of Chivalry, thought to have been awarded to an aristocratic German family, with some very likely to have been given to them by Queen Victoria. The English owner of these rare medals had served in Germany in the aftermath of WW2, and we’ll never really know how he came to possess them – perhaps he was given them in return for food or shelter.

German orders of Chivalry

The third story was very different. It concerned a collection of vintage jewellery assembled over several decades by one Pamela Schneider who had lived in North Devon. Interestingly, Pamela was one of Chilcotts’ first vendors, back in 2004. 

There was a connection with the other two stories, as Pamela grew up during WW2. In spite of a disjointed education, she became a successful entrepreneur, running a café before discovering an interest in antiques. Pamela’s daughter told us that in the late 1960s she began to read numerous books about antiques, and never missed an episode of Going for a Song!

There was a good take up of the jewellery collection press release in the Devon press, and I attribute this to the stunning photograph Chilcotts supplied; butterflies, dragonflies and flowers scattered in the striking aubern hair of their daughter! I always say that images are so important, and here is another example of this truism.

Pamela Schneider Collection

Antiques Trade Gazette
Midweek Herald
Exeter Daily

2019 is Chilcotts Auctioneers 15th anniversary year, so here’s wishing happy celebrations to this wonderful family business. I’m looking forward to learning about more items going under the hammer!


Nourish Magdalen Road

Nourish opens in Magdalen Road

I started working with Nourish at the back end of 2018. What a whirlwind it’s been since then!

Apart from writing blogs, press releases and (winning) awards submissions, I’ve been in from the start with the announcement of the second shop, just opened in Magdalen Road on the site of wholefood shop The Bran Tub after the owners retired.

Nourish of Topsham has morphed into Nourish Zero Waste, to facilitate the business expansion. The Magdalen Road shop opened just a day late after a whirlwind refurbishment and branding exercise that saw owner Sarah Martin wielding a paintbrush (my supportive action was to buy her lunch and a cup of herbal tea!).

Not Sarah…

PR for Nourish has been very successful, from the announcement of the second shop which was featured in Devon Live, Devon Life, Exeter Life, Food Magazine, Crumbs Magazine and Exeter Living, to interviews Sarah has undertaken for International Women’s Day and most recently a ‘first look’ at the shop by Devon Live in which Sarah said: “I had one chap come in for milk with his old Blue Sapphire gin bottle and that’s absolutely fine with me. It’s really important to me that this isn’t a crochet your own flip-flops shop, I want it to be a nice friendly store. There’s no judgement here.”

My favourite phrase of the year so far, ‘crochet your own flipflops’. See the whole interview on Devon Live here: We take a sneak peek at Exeter’s newest zero-waste shop.

There’s lots more to come with Nourish once Sarah has come up for air, and I have to say it’s a real pleasure to be involved. I do like my clients!

DASLS

Legal Awards Success

After the success of Nourish at the Exeter Living Awards, it was the turn of long-term legal clients The Family Law Company at the Devon and Somerset Legal Society Awards.

They were shortlisted in five categories and were kind enough to invite me along to join their table at the awards event held at Exeter Cathedral. What a beautiful venue, if a tad chilly!

After a lovely dinner created by Taste Catering (which included the challenge of carving a huge piece of lamb for the meat eaters and a whole stuffed butternut squash for us veggies), the awards began.

Our first thrill was when Kirsty Thyer from The Family Law Company’s Plymouth office was awarded Highly Commended as Leader of the Year.

Kirsty Thyer

Next, the whole firm was recognised as the winners of Law Firm of the Year (1-10 Partners). Our table got very loud, then very quiet as the whole team made their way to the stage to collect the award! But that wasn’t the end of it, and there were tears all round when Imran Khodabocus was named Solicitor of the Year.

Also up for awards were Carrie Laws, for Chartered Legal Exec, and Hannah Porter for Rising Star. Although they didn’t win, they were both proud to be finalists and will no doubt be put up for awards again soon (Carrie has already been entered for the CILEx Awards).

I was totally surprised a couple of days’ later when a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived on my doorstep, from Rachel and everyone at the firm, thanking me for my efforts helping to write their award submissions. Well, I always say that an award submission is only as good as the people it is written about. You can’t make an awards submission up, you have to write the truth. I knew when I interviewed Imran, for example, that he was a potential winner as his story was so compelling.

Well done to this amazing firm, they’ve had to get a bigger trophy cabinet. We’ve just released the news that they have appointed four new Directors (and amazingly for a law firm, 58% of the Board are now women!).

Sarah with her award

Nourish is the Winner!

It was a pleasure to attend this year’s Exeter Living Awards with two clients, The Family Law Company and Nourish of Topsham.

The event is held annually at The Great Hall at Exeter University, which was beautifully decorated, as usual.

I believe I proved my worth to Sarah of Nourish when I elbowed my way to the free bar to grab the last two glasses of pink prosecco on arrival.

What a lovely night it was, especiaWith Sarah at Exeter Living Awardslly when Nourish was announced as the winner of the Retail category. Which I almost missed as I was scrabbling around on the floor trying to find a bracelet that had slipped from my wrist.

I seem to remember Sarah swearing mildly when she went on stage to receive her award (this was nothing compared to the Mexican wave initiated by another winner, Good Game, who were, they freely admitted, slightly the worse for wear).

Commiserations to The Family Law Company who were pipped at the post in the Legal and Financial category, but coming up very soon is the DASLS Awards. I have everything crossed that they will collect at least one award at this event. Nourish is a finalist again at the Venus Awards next week, in the New Business Category, so watch this space!

I’m now working on submissions for the Exeter Business Awards for a number of clients, after which hopefully there will be a break before the next raft!

Although it seems to be awards season at the moment, there’s plenty more going on; Nourish is working towards opening its second store in Magdalen Road, and I’m delighted to have secured lots of great coverage for this including: Devon Live | Business Insider | Exeter Daily | Crumbs Magazine

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 ad hoc 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.

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