Candles

Recycling takes a new twist

I’m thoroughly enjoying working with my newest client, The Recycled Candle Company.

When I first met Richard and Sargon I instantly loved what they were doing; making beautiful candles from recycled wax. I found out much more about the concept and their passion when I wrote a feature for Devon Life.

Richard, who grew up in Sidbury, has been perfecting his candle-making techniques since he first started making candles at the age of seven. He learnt how to recycle used wax by trial and error, and now has the process perfected. When Sargon came on board, they were able to turn their recycling ideals into a sound business proposition.

The company is currently keeping over 300kg of used candles out of landfill, and providing and opportunity not just for individuals but for hospitality businesses and churches to recycle their used candles.

Richard and Sargon worked initially out of a shop in Ottery St Mary, and moved into their new shop in Gandy Street in June 2019 – the perfect location for an indie shop like theirs. So my first PR task was to tell everyone about the move, and they were featured in Devon Life, Exeter Living and in an interview with Devon Live, amongst others.

I also organised a workshop for a number of freelance writers and photographer Rosie Parsons. We had a blast making pretty firelighters (which is the way that the lowest grade wax can be reused) and the event should be in Devon Life’s social diary very soon.

Business is growing apace; The Recycled Candle Company sells not only from the shop and wholesale, but online too. Wax supplies have been getting a little low, so the next task I’m helping with is to use PR to get hold of more! Cue an interview with David Fitzgerald on BBC Radio Devon, and a county-wide request for used candles. So far, there’s been lots of interest and promises of wax, especially on social media.

This has been a doubly useful exercise for me; Richard and Sargon are sometimes so busy making candles and running the shop that they don’t have time to keep on top of social media. So although I’m not managing their SM accounts, I’m happy to keep an eye on notifications and remind them when they need to respond!

It’s early days with The Recycled Candle Company but already I know that it is one of those accounts that will give me lots of enjoyment – it’s always nice when work is a pleasure! Check out their website or pop into the shop and find out what all the fuss is about.

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

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.

 

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

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

Winners Tickety-Boo receiving the bronze awards

Winners all

Thursday November 23rd 2017 might go down in history as ‘the most awards in one evening’, with lots of worthy winners. Well, in my world, at least.

Tickety-Boo

Winners all glammed upIn Devon, my coffee shop clients Tickety-Boo were finalists in the Devon Tourism Awards. This was extremely exciting as these are really very prestigious awards. The event was held at the Guildhall in Plymouth and Tickety-Boo’s owner, Stuart, took his team along. They picked up a bronze award, and everyone was delighted. Recognition indeed for a very young business.

DEBI

Meanwhile, also in Devon, I was attending the Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI) Awards as I’m a DEBI Director. None of my clients were entered on this occasion, although Rusty Winners in the DEBI AwardsPig was a previous finalist and Otter Garden Centres were category sponsors. These awards celebrate all that is green in Devon, with winners this year including Sungift Energy, Millbrook Cottages and Sonya Bedford from Stephens Scown, crowned this year’s Environmental Champion. I had a chat with Sonya after the awards event, she really does love her work.

Diespeker

Winners Diespeker MD John Krause collecting awardsIn London, at the same time, Diespeker & Co, my client via agency Terra Ferma Media, was attending the South East Manufacturers Awards, organised by Insider Media. This was the first awards we’d put them up for, and they were finalists in the Manufacturer of the Year (under £25M) category. We weren’t expecting a win, but they did it – a brilliant result.

The icing on the cake came the next day when Solicitor Derek Jordan from client The Family Law Company was announced as a finalist in the Devon & Somerset Legal Society Awards. Derek is a really dedicated solicitor, working in Plymouth to help clients often suffering in domestic violence and abuse situations. I hope he wins as he really does make a difference.

After all that excitement I am exhausted! But now it’s time to look at the Exeter Living Awards…..