Andrew Sheridan, Sosban - Great British Menu PR

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Chef Andrew Sheridan of Sosban in Llanelli in South Wales, was one of three Welsh chefs competing on Great British Menu on BBC Two this autumn. Great British Menu branded Andrew as the ‘maverick chef’ for his bold style turning traditional dishes like chicken soup and rice pudding upside down with his own unique spin.

This year Great British Menu is paying tribute to 70 years of the NHS and tasking 24 chefs from around the UK to create exceptional dishes for a banquet as a thank you to NHS heroes from around the country. Andrew went head-to-head against Chris Harrod from The Whitebrook in Monmouthshire and Jason Hughes from Chateau Rhianfa, Anglesey. The chefs were tasked with preparing a starter, fish course, main course and desert judged by a veteran chef Paul Ainsworth. Andrew was in the lead on points when he and Chris Harrod went through to the regional final on Friday to be judged by Andi Oliver, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton OBE. The judges loved Andrew’s dishes and two of them scored his Apple Rice Pudding 10 out of 10, but at the final reckoning they picked Chris Harrod to go through to the banquet.

We developed and implemented a media campaign for the national, regional Welsh and trade media with the aim of not only creating a buzz around his appearance, but also building awareness of him as a chef to watch and Sosban as a destination restaurant. We continue to work on securing national coverage for Andrew including other broadcast opportunities.

The brief for Great British Menu was to thank our NHS heroes and Andrew tackled the brief by not only celebrating the Welsh founder of the NHS, Nye Bevan, but also his great grandmother who worked as nurse in Liverpool until the grand old age of 82! Andrew said “Rebecca worked for 62 years in the NHS - a lifetime’s commitment and a true inspiration to me when I was designing my dishes!”

He said of the experience of the competition “it was intense but also incredibly rewarding! I met some amazing people and it has also made me release how far I have come in my career.”

www.sosban.wales

Michelin-Star Restaurants - PR

 Gareth Ward - Ynyshir

Gareth Ward - Ynyshir

 Lisa Goodwin-Allen - Northcote

Lisa Goodwin-Allen - Northcote

Working for Peers Communications, I provide PR consultancy and implementation to Michelin-star restaurants Ynyshir in Wales and Northcote in Lancashire.

 Ynyshir is a destination restaurant and rooms, led by chef Gareth Ward and Amelia Eiriksson. Over the last two years, Ynyshir has been through significant refurbishment, with each stage moving further away from a traditional country house hotel, towards an exceptional destination. These developments have been recognised by numerous awards. In 2017 Ynyshir was awarded five AA Rosettes - the first ever restaurant in Wales to achieve that accolade and one of only three restaurants in the UK to reach that standard. Ynyshir also scooped the Decanter/Hine Restaurant of the Year 2017 and  The AA Wine Award for Wales 2017-18. It has retained its Michelin Star and is number 12 in the Good Food Guide 2018. 

Our focus has been to:

  • Reposition Ynyshir as a destination restaurant, not country house hotel.
  • Secure visits and reviews focussed on the tasting menu and cooking techniques in food press and luxury publications such as The Telegraph Ultra, Food & Travel, Country & Town House.
  • Raise Gareth's Profile as a Chef to Watch with interviews and profile pieces.
  • Secure appearances for Gareth at major events like Hotelympia and Abergavenny Food Festival.
  • Explore opportunities for Gareth to appear on radio and television.
  • Advise on website content and use of social media.

Northcote is a luxury, independent boutique hotel located in Lancashire. The restaurant  has held a Michelin star for 20 consecutive years. Northcote’s kitchen is led by Executive Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen, who took up the reins in October 2017 when co-founder Nigel Haworth stepped back to become Chef Ambassador. 

  • Raise Lisa Goodwin-Allen's profile with interviews, profile pieces and recipe placement.
  • Secure opportunities for Lisa to appear at trade and consumer shows like the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show.
  • Announce the line-up for Northcote's annual gastronomic event, Obsession, and manage press invitations to the London launch as well as the month-long event.
  • Report monthly on coverage achieved.

Café du Marché - Full Service Communications

 
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Tucked away down a cobbled mews in historic Smithfield in London, Le Café du Marché is an authentic and atmospheric French restaurant, run by the same family for over thirty years.

Le Café du Marché serves delicious classic French cuisine in the ground floor restaurant that has many loyal customers and has received praise from critics including Marina O'Laughlin. The restaurant has a unique and characterful private dining room on the first floor which is popular for corporate events as well as parties and wedding celebrations.

The owners of Le Café du Marché came to me looking for support with a full range of marketing and PR activity. Work commenced in December 2017 and continues with the aim of increasing bookings for the private dining room, securing restaurant reviews in the London and national media online and in print and improving communications with customers.

I am working closely with the owner and management team:

  • PR - restaurant reviews, chefs profiles, recipe placement and trade expertise and opinions.
  • Private event sales - improvements to marketing of the venue including writing and creating a new brochure; updating and adding to online listings including specialist wedding and events sites.
  • Planning and creating a communications calendar including blogs, social media and newsletters.
  • Writing blog content and creating an email newsletter.
  • Event management for an exclusive open day event for event organisers and wedding planners.

British Dal Festival - Curation and PR

 
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I am part of a small team to launch the first British Dal Festival in 2018. The festival will celebrate the magic of dal and similar pulse dishes from around the world through a week of events across the city of Bristol next month. The aim is to will highlight the cultural richness, flavour, and affordability of dal and in particular pulses grown in the UK, as well as their contribution to health, nutrition and environmental sustainability. 

I have been involved in the development, planning and PR for the Festival including:

  • Developing the Festival's objectives, story and brand.
  • Creating a website and social media profiles for British Dal Festival.
  • Inviting high profile chefs and food writers to share dal recipes and memories for the website.
  • Curating a programme of dal cookery demonstrations for the Festival's Grand Finale.
  • Developing and implementing a creative PR campaign to launch the festival to the national press, and working alongside a colleague who focussed in the Bristol media.
  • Securing coverage in national titles and local radio including a feature written by Diana Henry in Waitrose Weekend, a feature on pulses in The Observer and listings in Olive and Delicious magazines.

 

Tastesmiths - Consumer PR and sampling

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Tastesmiths produce authentic home cooking curry kits designed to make it easy for home cooks to rustle up a delicious curry without the hassle of buying all the dry and fresh ingredients separately. Distinct from many curry kits all the ingredients (chilli, garlic, ginger) are fresh and spices freshly ground.

Tastesmiths had rebranded under new ownership in 2015 but never undertaken any proactive PR. A new listing with trade distributors Cotswold Fayre in autumn 2017, created an opportunity to build awareness of Tastesmith's with the UK media.

In a short and focussed PR exercise, I created a press release and targetted editors of the UK's leading food publications including Olive, Delicious, and BBC Good Food as well as trade publications like Speciality Food and Fine Food Digest. A very high conversion rate secured coverage in many leading titles.

 
 Olive Magazine

Olive Magazine

 

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.

 

Branding - Lawson's Delicatessen - Slate

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Lawson's Delicatessen was an award-winning deli on the Suffolk Coast which is now known as Slate. In January 2017 it was taken over by new owners father and daughter, Clare Jackson and John Ormerod who planned to rebrand the business to Slate, to open a new shop in Southwold and to start an ecommerce business.

I worked closely with the new owners before the the change of ownership and throughout the rebranding process. 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

I brought in specialist creative agency, WHAT Associates, to create a new brand identity and managed the development and implementation of the new brand.

I provided a full marketing service to the team including

  • Strategic and practical marketing advice.
  • PR to local and national media as well as the trade press.
  • 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, creating an online shop and reporting on engagement.

Branding - Workshop Facilitation

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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.

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.

Brand development - New Bean to Bar Chocolate

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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 

 

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.

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 Curation - Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival is one of the UK's most renowned food and drink festivals. Over 70 food and drink producers gather at Snape Maltings near Aldeburgh in September every year. They are joined by a panoply of well-known chefs and food writers to entertain an audience of nearly 10,000 over the weekend.

Polly worked with Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival from 2009-2014 and was ultimately a member of the small board. During her time with the Festival Polly brought in her network of chefs and food writers to bring new faces like Diana Henry, Sabrina Ghayour and Sam Clark of Moro to the Festival. She also generated many new ideas to evolve and generate additional revenue for the Festival including workshops, a Saturday night ticketed party and brought new sponsors on board.

Polly was particularly passionate about the Festival Fringe which we think is unique amongst food festivals as a fortnight of tours, walks, talks, workshops and special events run by local farms, producers, retailers and pubs and restaurants.

The Fringe events give the public the chance to engage with local food production and support the local economy.  When Polly took on managing the Fringe in 2009 the number of events went from about 25 to 60 with a much wider geographical spread across Suffolk and funding from local organisations.

Writing and Content Creation - Aspall

We developed and implemented an integrated communications strategy for Aspall over a two year period. We worked closely with Aspall's owners, brothers Barry and Henry Chevallier Guild, brand consultant Deborah Taffler and communications expert Robert Phillips to develop a strategy and plan focussed on key themes of authenticity & heritage; modernity & evolution; expertise & craft; brand & terroir and markets & marketing.

Stepping away from a conventional PR approach of blanket press releases and measuring success in column inches our strategy was 'Aspall don't say much but when they do it's worth listening'. All communications centred on the new Aspall web site and blog driving consumers, journalists and trade to there from email marketing, social media, editorial and advertising. 

Aspall has a wonderful rich heritage of nearly 300 years of cyder making in Suffolk. It is one of the UK's oldest family businesses and the brand's reputation for quality cyder, vinegar and apple juice is known and respected across the UK and the rest of the world.

Aspall has many wonderful stories to tell from the family archives which include founder Clement Chevallier's 1728 diaries, letters about the family's role as co-founders of the Soil Association in 1947 and experience of the traditions of cyder making across the centuries. There is also a present-day business story - huge investment in production facilities, increased production, focus on quality liquid with high juice content and opinions on the current state of the UK cyder market. 

We trippled Aspall's audience on Twitter and Facebook and introduced them to Instagram and LinkedIn. We generated significant coverage in trade publications like The Grocer and The Morning Advertiser, features in The Telegraph and Guardian and coverage in Sainsbury's Magazine and Waitrose Kitchen.

Our particular focus now is on vinegar, the unsung hero of the Aspall range.

PR - Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

We managed PR for the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival for four years until 2014. We built relationships with the local press and radio as well as national journalists, food writers and influential bloggers to raise awareness of the Festival and reach new audiences.

We aimed to secure publicity in the run up to the event working with publications long lead times to achieve both full features and diary listings in publications like BBC Good Food, Delicious, Food & Travel Magazine, Condé Nast Traveller and Country Homes & Interiors. The Festival was regularly named by publications like The Guardian and The Telegraph as one of the UK's top food festivals.

Each year we brought a prestigious list of journalists to and experience the Festival and the magic of the Snape marshes for themselves.  In 2014 journalists from The Telegraph, The Guardian, Waitrose Kitchen, and Country Living attended as well as some of the UK's most influential bloggers like Mrs Marmite Lover, The Botanical Baker and Lavender & Lovage generating significant activity on Twitter and Instagram and valuable online content.