PR & Marketing - Lawson's Delicatessen

Lawsons.delicatessen

I often work alongside small businesses as an extension of their own team, managing all the tasks of a marketing team without the overheads.

Lawson's Delicatessen, an award-winning deli on the Suffolk Coast. In January 2017 it was taken over by new owners father and daughter, Clare Jackson and John Ormerod. I started working alongside them ahead of the transition. I advised them on communications about the change of ownership to their loyal customers, the local community, their suppliers and the small team of staff. This involved developing a new website, setting up an email newsletter, creating press releases for the consumer and trade press, re-establishing their presence on social media and facilitating a staff away day and workshop

Lawsons.delicatessen

I continue to work with the team at Lawson's looking after their communications based on a structured communications plan integrating:

  • PR to local and national media
  • Writing blogs, including a monthly Cheese of the Month feature
  • Developing and writing a monthly newsletter (including growing the database).
  • Social media implementation and analysis
  • Managing the website and reporting on engagement.

I am also able to provide strategic and practical advice on other activities such as branding, e-commerce and events.

Writing - ghost writing and editing David Coe's Memoir

Coes was founded in 1928 as a gentlemen's outfitters in Ipswich. Today it is still owned by the Coe family and has branches around East Anglia selling everything from sports equipment to school uniform.

In April 2017, David Coe, son of the founder, celebrated 60 years working in the business. To celebrate the occasion, David wanted to record his memories of a life in the business in a book to give to customers. Coes' creative agency, WHAT associates, approached me to help.

 
Coes.Reflections of a Shopkeeper
 

David Coe had drafted notes on his life in the family business, from his early childhood living above the shop during the Second World War, to the expansion of the business during and opening new branches in 1970s. 

I interviewed David to uncover more memories and wrote his personal and business story based on his original notes to bring the story to life, while being careful to retain his personality and tone of voice in the text. I reviewed business archives and conducted my own research about the business and life and business in Ipswich over the last sixty years. I then proposed a structure for the book working hand-in-hand with the team at WHAT associates on how the book should be designed and presented.

The finished book is beautifully produced with fascinating images from the Coes' business and family archives. A fitting celebration of this unique East Anglian retailer.

New websites for food writers

 
Wild Flours website
 

For food writers and bloggers a website can be their shop front. It's a window into their work and their personal brand so it's important it looks good and tells their story clearly.

This year two food writers have approached me to help them develop or improve their websites.

Sue Quinn, is an established food writer and journalist with several books to her name and blogging on her site Pen & Spoon.  Sue needed a new website but had a limited budget to create it. Squarespace is a great solution as it's possible to develop a professional looking site cheaply and quickly. I worked with Sue to identify the focus of the site and develop a site map. Once this was agreed it was very simple to create the site and show Sue how to upload new content on regular basis. 

 
 

Vanessa Gerbrandy is a teacher and mother living in Scotland with her two young girls. She is passionate about cooking with children and sharing the love of food with them and created a blog, Wild Flours, to inspire parents to cook wholesome foods. Vanessa develops recipes and takes her own photographs. The success of the blog has led to opportunities to contribute to other publications.  Her existing Squarespace website didn't maximise the quality of the photos or draw readers into the content.

As well as helping Vanessa to develop ideas about how to monetise her writing and develop her personal brand, I updated her website with a fresh template. The new site is much bolder and more contemporary and shows off the quality of Vanessa's photography.

Both these food writers, Vanessa and Sue, now have sites that work much harder for them, are easy to manage and update and were completed on a very small budget.

www.penandspoon.com

www.wildflours.co.uk

Branding - Workshop Facilitation

branding.workshops

Lawson's Delicatessen in Aldeburgh, is a much-loved specialist food retailer on the Suffolk Coast. When the founders retired and sold the business in January 2017, the new owners asked me to facilitate an away-day workshop for them and the staff. The objective of the day was to give the staff the opportunity to share their thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of the business and explore ideas and new opportunities drawing on their years of experience in the shop.

The challenge was to create a welcoming and open environment for all the team to share their thoughts and listen to each other. It was important to make sure the team felt valued by Lawson's new owners and give them all a chance to get to know each other better.

I developed a number of exercises and games to make the day fun and engaging. We had cheese jokes, lots of post-it notes and quizzes.  I worked hard to make sure that everyone was involved and listened to and to make sure the discussion kept moving.

We wrapped up the day with a tutored cheese tasting and delicious lunch. It was an unusual opportunity for the whole team to get together away from the busy shop and have the chance to chat together.

As a result of the workshop, we developed a long list of actions for the team to put into place immediately as well as identifying some interesting ideas for development or improvements that will be implemented.

New website & food photography - Unique Fine Foods

UniqueFineFoods

Unique Fine Foods are distributers of speciality food products from Italy and France. They supply UK supermarkets under their brand UniqueItalia and as supermarket own label.

Their old website was built six or more years earlier and the design was very outdated and difficult to navigate. The design and content was not engaging; there were very few images, no product information and no blog or news. The team found it almost impossible to manage and keep up to date and it was built in a very restricted theme, was not mobile-friendly and was very unstable and vulnerable.

Although the team understood that these issues needed to be addressed they had bad experiences of working with developers who charged huge sums of money and took months to deliver and they were nervous of investing a new site.

In just a few hours I created a sample website using a Squarespace template to convince them how much we could improve the site with more striking use of photography, richer content as well as news and recipes.

Convinced that Squarespace offered an affordable and manageable solution, Unique Fine Food asked me to complete the site. This included planning the site navigation, tweaking the template to make it more bespoke to them and writing new content.

To keep costs down, I moonlighted as both a food and portrait photographer to create a new portfolio of images for the new products, recipes and the team.

The new website is a vast improvement on the previous one and will work much more effectively to engage their audiences whether buyers, suppliers, consumers or journalists. The news and recipe sections will enable us to build a much more content-rich social media campaign.  And it's responsive design is mobile friendly and has built in search engine optimisation.

The team have already praised it for how easy it is to use and update, which means they are not dependent on external developers to make small changes to the site which will save them considerable costs. And the website has scope to grow with the business and should last them a good number of years.

Visit the Unique Fine Foods site >

For more reasons why I love Squarespace for small business websites read my blog >

Trade PR - Skinner's Brewery

Trade PR for Skinner's Brewery

Skinner’s Brewery, a renowned Cornish community brewery in the heart of Cornwall, brewed its first pint in 1997 and has gone on to winner numerous awards; but, until recently, has prided itself on being a secret to the South West and has not been available in the rest of the UK.

In early 2016 the brewery underwent a major review of its marketing and sales strategy resulting in a complete brand refresh, as well as major investment in production facilities and a renewed effort to expand distribution to both the on and off-trade.

We were brought on board to support the marketing team with PR to both the consumer and trade press as well as freelance beer writers and bloggers. We developed a sustained media campaign that secured significant coverage of the developments in the influential trade press including the Publican Morning Advertiser, The Grocer, Imbibe and and CAMRA publications. We also organised for samples to be sent to relevant beer bloggers for review on their websites.

Alongside traditional PR we secured a number of opportunities for Skinners beer to appear at interesting and relevant food and drink events including a book launches for chef Dan Doherty's new book and Tom Hodgkinson of The Idler.

 

Digital Marketing - Hepple Gin

Hepple Gin is a premium gin created by four friends: chef Valentine Warner, countryman Walter Riddell and spirits experts, Cairbry Hill and Nick Strangeway. Their ambition was to create the perfect Martini gin by developing a unique triple distilling technique that goes further than traditional gin-making.  The distillery is based on the Hepple estate on the Northumberland Moors and is rich in native botanicals including the largest juniper stands in England.

Hepple Gin

Hepple Gin has a small team and is thinly stretched and needed support with their digital marketing and communications. Working alongside their PR, Fiona Smith, I have developed and continue to implement  a digital communications plan that reflects their premium position in the craft gin market. The plan pulls together all their activities including launches in new bars or retailers, events and tastings and what's going on at the distillery from harvesting botanicals to developing new cocktails - it then identifies how these are communicated through PR, social media, the blog and email newsletter.

When Hepple launched in autumn 2015 they had a website and blog; Twitter and Facebook accounts; and started to collect email addresses for a newsletter. However, as the team is so thinly stretched the blog or Journal was rarely updated, the database had under 50 subscribers and social media was erratic. By creating a plan of regular new web content which we then push out through various channels we have increased audience reach and engagement.

Hepple wasn't on Instagram which seemed a crucial way to engage with high-end restaurants and bars, as well as their customers, which are Hepple's target market. Now Hepple is really active on Instagram and we're seeing excellent engagement. On Twitter we have more than doubled the number of followers in a matter of months and are much more consistently present there.

I switched Hepple's newsletter platform from something that was rudimentary and a paid for service to Mailchimp (which is free for under 2000 subscribers). I created a branded template and now send regular monthly newsletters which push people to the website to read the full story and engage more with the brand. 

We've also grown the mailing list by making it easier for people to sign up to the newsletter through the website and formed a couple of partnerships with a publisher and an event company to run competitions to reach new audiences.

On a monthly basis I provide detailed reports on web site analytics, social media and newsletter engagement.

There is still work to be done to improve the Hepple website and we will start to implement various improvements there.

Website development - Best of Norfolk

Developing a new website for Best of Norfolk and Suffolk

Publisher, Tilston Phillips, came to me for help with improving their online presence.

Best of Norfolk and Best of Suffolk are annual high quality print publications for visitors to East Anglia, promoting the region's food and drink, places to stay, shops and galleries and things to do. The glossy magazines are advertising-led with paid for content and are distributed free to guests at quality hotels, restaurants and other locations in Norfolk and Suffolk and have a readership of over 450,000 per year.

However, advertisers are increasingly demanding an online presence as part of their package and the publishers were stuck with a very out-dated blog, managed by a third party, that it was very difficult for them to manage and update themselves.

Best of Norfolk

I worked with Tilston Phillips to understand what their priorities were for the web site and the look and feel that they wanted to achieve and identified a suitable Squarespace template which I then tweaked to make it look individual and fit the Best of Norfolk brand. 

The brand new site for Best of Norfolk looks fresh, contemporary and engaging. Tilston Phillips prides itself on the quality of photographs they take for clients and these are now shown off in high resolution. By using some basic SEO techniques we are starting to see a growth in traffic to the site. And most importantly it's easy to manage so that Tilston Phillips can now manage the site themselves without being dependent on a specialist developer, although I'm on standby to help with anything.

The result is an attractive website, reflective of the high production values and quality design of the print magazine.

The next step is to develop the Best of Suffolk site.

If you need help creating a new web site do get in touch >

Start-up Toolkit - Train Body Brain

While I normally specialise in food and drink businesses, I can't resist it when someone comes to me with a great new business idea and needs help to get it off the ground. When another Mum at my children's school told me about her interest in the wellbeing of teenage girls and her idea to run classes that combined high intensity workouts with positive messages followed by mindfulness, I was really keen to get involved.

Wendy MacLennan was driven by her own experience of the multiple pressures that teenage girls face from school and exams, their peers, the media and social media. She believes that through helping girls to feel strong both physically and mentally they can navigate their way through the assault course of adolescence. 

Wendy had an idea and a name for her business, Train Body Brain,  but needed help and guidance in getting it off the ground. Starting a new business is daunting and there feels like so much to do and I've worked alongside Wendy to guide her along the way and work out priorities and plans.

Train Body Brain

She enlisted a friend to develop a striking logo and brand. She had a clear idea of the style of website she wanted - a very contemporary blog style site with class details and inspirational blogs and quotes. I helped to write content and built the site for her using a simple Squarespace template. At this stage it wasn't a requirement for people to be able to book online, just reserve a place, but we will introduce online payment in the future. I brought in another designer to create some print flyers, stickers and t-shirts to give to girls coming to the classes.

Wendy was nervous about using social media but she knew she had to have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and especially Instagram to engage young people as well as their parents in what she was doing. I've guided Wendy through getting set up on each of these platforms and now help to manage the content ensuring she's reaching the right audiences, establishing herself as an expert in fitness and mental health for young women, as well as promoting her classes.

The next stage is to develop a regular email newsletter as a way to keep in touch with parents, who, after all, are the ones paying for the classes. I will also implement a sustained PR campaign to both the London and Suffolk media to generate coverage for the classes and gather some reviews from fitness and wellness bloggers.

For more information about Wendy's classes which run in Primrose Hill, London on Mondays and Tuesdays and Framlingham, Suffolk on Fridays to look at her web site Train Body Brain >

Brand development - New Bean to Bar Chocolate

Bean to bar chocolate

What I love most about my work is meeting people who are passionate about making food or drink, who have had a personal experience that has led them on a journey to explore and learn to do something new; and who plan to take the brave step of turning their hobby into a business.

So was excited to help someone who was so driven by the real benefits of bean-to-bar chocolate, beyond just the taste, that she embarked on a journey to learn how to make it, source sustainable and ethical cocoa beans and invest in quality equipment to roast, winnow and temper.

Tosier is a new chocolate maker needed support to develop her brand story and work out how to position her new business in the growing UK bean to bar chocolate market. Through an informal workshop with lots of chat in all directions, all fuelled by some delicious chocolate, I helped her to hone her story and USP (unique selling proposition).

We also discussed business fundamentals such as getting her Food Hygiene Rating certificate to packaging solutions that would be manageable and affordable - using stickers and stamps on generic packaging rather than investing in bespoke packaging at this early stage of the business. After the workshop I provided her with a practical marketing strategy and a detailed plan and list of requirements and considerations that she would need to put in place before launch.

Through research (including eating lots of chocolate) I recommended how she positions her product in the market, considering pack sizes, pricing and distribution channels. I refined the brand values and story and honed the key marketing messages to work across different channels from the packaging to website and social media. I created a simple web page (www.tosier.co.uk) to launch the business and I guided her through getting set up on Instagram and Twitter and how to build an audience through relevant content.

Tosier will launch at a series of food shows at the end of October. I hope that my advice and guidance has given her the additional support and confidence needed to get the business off the ground.

www.tosier.co.uk 

 

PR for Product Launch - UniqueItalia

 Spriralised courgettes or ‘courgetti’ have gained celebrity status thanks to the likes of Hemsley and Hemsley and Deliciously Ella promoting them as a carb and gluten-free alternative to spaghetti. But for some people spiralising is just too fiddly and my client, Unique Fine Foods, identified an opportunity for a dried courgetti that could be a great store-cupboard stand-by.

Unique Fine Foods is a London-based fine food importer supplying high quality, authentic ingredients from Europe to UK supermarkets as both supermarket own-label ingredients such and under their own brand UniqueItalia. Unique Fine Foods is a family business run by father and daughter Jeremy Blower and Amelia Wellings-Thomas and they pride themselves on working closely with their suppliers including another family business in southern Italy that specialises in both growing and preserving vegetables to provide sun dried tomatoes and other anti-pasti to the UK.

Amelia came up with the idea of dried courgetti and worked with the Italian suppliers to develop the product before securing a listing in Sainsbury's under their UniqueItalia brand. The product went live in June and I was called into create a media campaign to tell the world about this completely brand new product category, starting with developing a press release that had to be approved by Sainsbury's rigorous Press office.

I targeted both the trade press, food magazines and national press with the courgetti story in order to get the publicity required to tell consumers about this brand new product idea and ensure that sales got off to a positive start in Sainsbury's. The focus was on stressing its versatility as a store cupboard ingredient that can be cooked as quickly as spaghetti and used in a similar way but is gluten free.

BBC Good Food

My client was delighted by the interest that the campaign generated. We had almost instant responses from influential publications from The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday, Delicious and BBC Good Food and trade press such as The Grocer. Samples were duly sent out to people and while there were a few people who weren't keen on it we achieved some great coverage for the product including listings as the "Food Editors Pick" and recommendations for a pasta alternative. This in turn has helped to drive sales in store and keep the Sainsbury's buyer happy!
 

Connecting with chefs & writers - Hodmedod

When Hodmedod started business selling British-grown fava beans in 2012 I helped them to get off the ground by reaching out to our network of journalists, chefs and food writers and encouraging them to try the beans which led to some

Three years later they have a diverse range of products including quinoa grown in Essex, British baked beans, a full range of dried pulses and gluten free flours.  The small team was stretched and they needed some regular marketing support as well as to engage with more chefs, food writers and bloggers to tell them about the new products.

Through sending samples to a new wave of food writers and chefs like Sabrina Ghayour, Olia Hercules and Honey & Co, we have achieved some high profile coverage for Hodmedod on Twitter and Instagram and got Hodmedod beans and peas on the menus of some London restaurants.

2016 is the Year of the Pulse and I will be working closely with Hodmedod to raise the profile of British grown pulses through creating new blog content, recipes, and events for the press and food community.

 

Developing a strategy & plan - Spoon Cereals

Spoon Cereals is an ambitious start-up granola brand with backing from Dragon's Den investors Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. The founders, Annie Morris and Jonny Shimmin, asked me to help them distill their many marketing and communications ideas and develop an actionable plan to work to over the next 12 months.

I led several workshops with the founders to draw out all their ideas and agree how to position Spoon as a lifestyle brand - clean, healthy, fresh, confident and focussed on quality. I made recommendations on how to develop the Spoon story about Annie and Jonny’s passion, their business journey and ambitions and create a tone of voice.

I reviewed their branding, packaging, event strategy, social media activity and connections with influencers. We carried out detailed research into the UK breakfast market and competitive granola brands to identify where Spoon should fit in the marketplace and how they should position their messaging to make their product stand out and raise awareness of their brand outside their London heartland.

When I started working with Spoon in September 2015 the products were only available in a number of independent retailers in London including Daylesford and Harvey Nichols but a launch in Ocado and 120 Sainsbury's stores was in the pipeline for November. With these major launches Spoon needed to work out how to punch above their weight in the crowded breakfast cereal market.

As a result of my involvement Spoon have a detailed marketing strategy to share with their funders and buyers and a detailed communications plan their small team can work to on a daily basis.

I hope that in 2016 there will have the opportunity to work with Spoon Cereals again as their business grows.

Business development - Root Camp

Root Camp is a social enterprise that reconnects young people with food and where it comes from, not only teaching them to cook it, but also to visit farms and food producers, go foraging, fishing or get stuck in digging the vegetable patch.

Founded by Cassia Kidron five years ago, Root Camp runs residential weeks in rural locations like West Wales and works with chefs like Valentine Warner, Jane Baxter and Oliver Rowe to teach the courses. 25% of places on the courses are fully subsidised to give the opportunity to teenagers who wouldn't usually be able to afford it. 

I have been working with Root Camp to develop their plans for 2016, starting by reviewing their communications through the web site, email newsletter and social media. I've also been working closely with the founder, Cassia, to find a new permanent home for Root Camp.

Over the next few months we hope to roll out a new web site for Root Camp as well as a PR campaign to launch the summer 2016 programme.

 

 

 

 

Engaging with influencers - Hillfarm & Hodmedod

 

Twice a year we are lucky enough to hold a lunch with Mark Hix at one of his London restaurants. We bring together food writers, chefs and journalists and allow Mark and his team’s food to demonstrate to do the talking.

Mark and his team are pioneers in sourcing quality British products to use in their ever growing restaurant group and buy all their oil from hillfarm and we have recently introduced them to our clients, Hodmedod's British pulses and British quinoa.

In October, 14 of us gathered in the beautiful private room at one of Mark’s newest ventures Hixter Bankside, just behind the Tate Modern. We were joined by writers from the Guardian, Sainsbury’s Magazine, Country and Townhouse and chefs including Lucas Hollweg, Oliver Rowe and Tony Rodd, finalist on Masterchef 2015. A highlight this time was that we were joined, not only by Mark, but also his Executive Chef and right-hand man, Kevin Gratton, who had developed the menu and talked passionately to guests about how he uses hillfarm oil and other parts of the plan from the greens to the seeds.

Over cocktails of white port and tonic we enjoyed some fantastic British Roasted fava beans from Hodmedods.

As we sat down for the introductions there was a noisy crunching on scrumpy-fried rape greens. The Hix restaurants have been evangelists for the young flower stems of rapeseed which have a mildly peppery taste and these had been deep fried in a light batter. Alongside them proud Yorkshire puddings roasted in hillfarm oil, perfectly crisp on the outside and soft in the centre.

Next came Game scotch eggs with mayonnaise made with hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil, then beautiful golden Manx queenies delicately marinaded with cucumber, wild chervil and oil.

The highlight was the main course of Poached fillet of cod with rapeseed greens and Hodmedod black badger peas. The contrast of colours and textures on the plate was beautiful.

Conversation was flowing and all the hillfarm team moved around between each course to make sure we got to talk to everyone. By our pudding of Temperley (Somerset Cider Brandy) Mess with honeyed madeleine with rapeseeds that crunched subtly and gave a hint of nuttiness against the sweet pudding.

We are hugely grateful to Mark and Kevin and all the team at Hixter Bankside for making us feel so welcome and sharing their enthusiasm with our visitors.

 

Content Creation - Aspall

We led Aspall's Pickle with Pride campaign in autumn 2014 and 2015 to develop interest in home pickling, increase vinegar sales and engage with chefs and food bloggers.

Aspall is renowned for its cyder, vinegar and apple juice. Cyder vinegar, as well as red, white and organic are fermented at Aspall and loved by chefs and home cooks the world over. Aspall is now the only privately-owned British vinegar producer and continues to produce a quality product using a unique trickle feed process pioneered by John Guild in the 70s.

Marketing Aspall vinegar is about encouraging consumers to use different types of vinegar, and use them more frequently. Consumers buy on average 2 bottles of vinegar a year and many don’t bother to have more than one type at any time.

Recipes are hugely important with Google estimating 2.4 billion food queries each year with 45% being recipe related. We developed more recipes for the Aspall web site and developed a major campaign around home pickling.

The Pickling with Pride launched in 2014 and grew significantly in 2015. Working in alignment with major retailers like Waitrose, Sainsbury and Tesco we developed, recipe cards, vouchers and other offers. New pickling recipes were used on retailers websites and on printed recipe cards and advertising in their in-house publications like Waitrose Kitchen. The estimated reach of the campaign was 4 million.

Alongside the in-store activity, we built partnerships with Kilner Jars, Maldon Salt, UK Shallots and Bart Ingredients to create a pickling kit of essential ingredients which was used as a prize in a social media competition. We increased Twitter followers by 1000 for the @AspallKitchen account and had an estimated reach of 1 million.

We sent out a pickling kit to a number of high profile, influential food bloggers and writers asking them to develop their own recipes and share them online.

The campaign was picked up by a number of national media publications and sales of vinegar increased significantly during the campaign period.

 

Writing - Restaurant Reviews Suffolk Magazine

Suffolk Magazine is a quality magazine published by Archant covering Suffolk Life. Between 2012-2014 I was wrote regular restaurant reviews for the magazine covering some of the county's best restaurants including The Leaping Hare at Wyken Vineyards, The Buxhall Coach House and Upstairs at Bailey's.

My emphasis was on the restaurants sourcing of local produce, meeting the owners and chefs to discuss to their approach to cooking with and promoting local producers even in restaurants that were focussed on either Italian cooking like Buxhall Coach House or Catalan, Upstairs at Bailey's in Beccles.

My review of Upstairs at Bailey's was picked up by The Independent's Tracey McLeod, who visited the restaurant and reviewed it for the paper - you can read Tracey's review here >

My reviews are available to read on the Food Safari blog and here:

Upstairs at Baileys