You’ll Never Walk Alone: Promoting a Charity Walk for Cancer Research UK

I do like to blog regularly so it must be time for my yearly post…hmmm, not hard to see why those Blogger of the Year awards aren’t flying in my direction.

Anyhoo, I’ve been busy.  Really busy.  As well as doing a day job as a Weddings Coordinator (which can be surprisingly stressful – they don’t call ’em bridezillas for nothing), I’ve also been supporting a charity walk called 3500 To End It with PR and social media. Laurence Carter lost his wife to cervical cancer and decided to spend a year walking 3,500 miles around the coast of England and Wales, raising funds for Cancer Research UK and awareness of preventing and eradicating cervical cancer.  Thus, ‘3500 To End It’.

Here’s a post I wrote* for the 3500 To End It blog to highlight some of the great publicity we received (and to attempt to make me look good now that I’m job hunting again!):

You’ll Never Walk Alone

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A couple of months into Laurence’s 3,500 mile walk – which actually turned out to be 4,250 miles due to walking up and down river estuaries instead of taking ferries, getting lost a few times, and several diversions to pubs along the way – he realised that he wasn’t getting as much publicity as he’d hoped.  It turns out that driving to an Airbnb, walking 10-15 miles, getting a bus back at the end of the day, eating, sampling a couple of pints of the local ale and trying to find somewhere to wash socks, doesn’t leave a great deal of time for contacting local newspapers or updating social media.

That’s where I came in.  I supported Laurence with PR and social media for the last nine months of his walk after a friend of a friend put me in touch.  I thought the walk sounded incredible and as for eradicating cervical cancer – well, who wouldn’t want to help to achieve that?

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Because the campaign was so personal to Laurence, I wanted to work as hard as I could in the hour I had each day to get his message to the biggest audience possible.  After creating a media strategy, I set to work, contacting hundreds of local and national media outlets (I think I emailed The One Show every other week!), reaching out to celebrities from all different fields (thanks to Bill Bryson, Martha Kearney, Jimmy Doherty and Helen Skelton for your support), and linking posts on Facebook and Twitter with everything from Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, International HPV Awareness Day and World CancerDay to national days featuring sticky buns, Pi (and pies!), book giving and inconveniencing yourself!

Thankfully, my persistence paid off and Laurence’s walk received great interest and coverage, both nationally and locally, reaching potentially millions of people, with another half a million impressions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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I was really pleased to get Laurence’s campaign into the national media. Laurence was able to tell his story in his own words with an emotional article in Woman magazine called The Picture that means So Much, as well as featuring in The Sun’s Fabulous magazine as part of the Cheers for Smears campaign.  The biggest coup was a full-page feature on the BBC News website, one of the biggest in the country with millions of visitors each day.  Laurence received lots of messages from friends and family who were amazed to read about him over their breakfast that morning!

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Local media was also massively important, as Laurence walked through almost 30 counties over the year so there was a huge audience to reach.  Before this, I had no idea just how many local newspapers and radio stations there are in England and Wales – believe me, there are A LOT – and, if they’re anywhere near the coast, I’ve spoken to/emailed/tweeted or messaged them! They range from hospital radio and local magazines with a handful of staff to BBC radio stations with hundreds of thousands of listeners and local newspapers/websites with almost a million readers each week.  We were fortunate that so many journalists and presenters were interested in Laurence’s story and he was interviewed by almost 50 local newspapers, magazines, radio and even TV stations.

I enjoyed every moment of working with Laurence; I’m so pleased that I was able to help him achieve his goal of raising awareness of cervical cancer prevention and bringing forward the day when we can eradicate cervical cancer.

And if anyone reading this would like a hand with PR or social media, please do get in touch!

*Yes, I do feel like I’ve cheated on Barbed Words with a hotter, newer blog!

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Here I Go Again…

It’s been A WHOLE YEAR since I last visited Barbed Words.  In my defence, it’s been a very busy year.  I moved house, changed jobs…actually, that’s pretty much it so, let’s face it, I’ve just been rubbish.

Anyway, not much writing has occurred, despite having joined a new writing club.  Unless writing Twitter posts count? I’m doing some social media stuff for a small charity, which means spending a lorra, lorra time on Twitter…ploughing through a lorra, lorra crap to find a shiny nugget to retweet.

But, now I’m back and I plan to pick up my neglected story which I started during last year’s NaNoWriMo and finish the damn thing.  The members of my writing group are obviously far too nice and need to become a lot meaner, the literary equivalent of Simon Cowell or Paul Hollywood, and start kicking my butt.

So to get my brain back into creative mode, I’ve gone for a nice, short Three Line Tale.

three line tales, week 144: people on a bath through fields of red bushes

Lady in Red 

After four years’ scrimping and saving, a lifetime’s dream had finally been realised and I was in Japan, gazing at the glowing red sea of the Kochia plants: an amazing autumnal display of Mother Nature at her finest, a truly awe-inspiring sight which would surely fill with joy the heart of anyone who saw it. 

Unless, of course, they were sneezing uncontrollably and their itchy eyes had swollen up so much that the breathtaking scene was just a red blur.  

‘Again, I’m so sorry I forgot to pack your hay fever tablets, Jane,’ said my husband, David. ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life.  But don’t worry, I’ve taken some really good photos for you.’ 

Well, it’s a start.  In the meantime, good luck to everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo.

 

Busy (Not) Doin’ Nothin’

I was starting to get a bit full of myself, posting once or twice a week, but the organisers of the Least Prolific Blogger of the Year awards have been in touch and I needed to rein it in a bit if I was to retain my title.  So blog silence for a few weeks. But I haven’t been idle. No, siree.

My cosy mystery has gone to my editor for its first read through.  I’ve also passed it onto a couple of friends, one of whom has already commented on the swearing…hmmmm.

Through another friend, I’ve done a couple of articles for Fabric Magazine to get some experience of freelance writing.  Here I am, bigging stuff up: Organic SeptemberCoffeeCocktails, Cats and posh art.

I’m doing an Open University online writing course and I’ve signed up for a one-day writing retreat. I’ve had a idea for an online business, and am trying to come up with a fabulous name and logo for it.

My BIG PLAN is to somehow combine all these things so I can generate enough money each month to be able to work from home.  My alternative plan is to slip on a squashed tomato in Tesco and sue them for millions.  Might need to move to America for that one to be successful.

Unfortunately, someone else had this idea for a website before I did:

Yep, that’s it. You pay a dollar just to see how many other suckers people have paid a dollar to see how many people have paid a dollar to see how many people…and so on, until you’ve made a million.  Bloody genius.

Any other great money-making ideas out there??

Don’t Go Breaking My ‘Art… #3LineTales

Back to work tomorrow…noooooooooo!  How is possible that I didn’t win the lottery or get snapped up by an agent in the last six weeks??  The summer has flown by, mostly spent editing the finer details of my murder mystery (would you flee the country if you thought your witness protection identity had been blown?) and writing lots of flash fiction like the Three Line Tale below.

Don’t Go Breaking My ‘Art

I’d spent twelve hours folding and shaping the delicate paper into hundreds of tiny cranes, my fingers burning with the strain of the repetitive task but, at last, I had enough for my final project, the culmination of three years’ study embodied in a powerful comment on modern politics: a group portrait of world leaders with the cranes glued to look like they were flying overhead – each depositing a torrent of crap.

I left the studio and headed home, exhausted but buoyant, knowing that I had merely to stick the cranes into position to meet tomorrow’s lunchtime deadline.

‘Bloody hell, these stupid students can’t even be bothered to tidy up after themselves,’ said Bobby, the janitor, as he swept the scraps of paper off the table into a bin bag, scrunching up the coloured cranes and emptying a box of used paints on top of them, ‘don’t worry, I’ll clear up the rubbish, shall I?’

Keeper of the Castle #FridayFictioneers

‘Oh my god! I swear I just saw a face at that window! Oooh, maybe the castle’s haunted?’ Tiff gave a theatrical shiver.

‘Or maybe you’ve been watching too much Supernatural?’ said Chloe. ‘Let’s go in and have a look round. Look, that doorway over there isn’t boarded up properly.’

‘Bloody hell!’ Tiff stepped in a huge dog turd. ‘I’m always so unlucky.’

She wiped her shoe ineffectually on the grass. ‘Oh, come on, let’s just go.’

A pair of black eyes watched them leave. He snarled, fangs glinting in the candlelight as he lashed out with his taloned hands.

Next time.

A 100 word story using the photo prompt above for the Friday Fictioneers, featuring a guest appearance from the Check Out beast. 

Harry Potter and the Slightly Impressed Teens

My youngest daughter has just finished the Harry Potter series so we booked tickets for The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. Or Harry Potter and The Amazing Money Vanishing Spell as I prefer to call it. We thought it would be a fabulous family day out so off we went.

Of course, we totally forgot that it would involve two teenagers being seen in public with THEIR PARENTS. Despite the fact that everything is exciting and fun when they’re hanging out with their mates – Love Island memes on social media, inane YouTubers eating chillies or Shawn Mendes just existing -, when they’re with their parents, nothing is cool.  They could be presented with a singing, diamond-pooping Basilisk and they would just respond with an eye roll. Imagine if someone saw them, enjoying themselves with their family?! Even people they’ve never met and will never meet again???!  They would be immediately struck off the Cool Teen List.

Anyway, dragging two reluctant teens behind us, we entered a massive warehouse housing many of the actual sets used in the Harry Potter films. Whole scenes are recreated, from the Great Hall and Diagon Alley, to Platform 9¾ and the Forbidden Forest, along with Dumbledore’s study, the Weasleys’ kitchen and the Potions classroom.

It was pretty amazeballs* but, to be honest, after a couple of hours it did start to get a bit repetitive and there isn’t really a great deal to do, except look at the props, costumes and creatures. The fact that we were really hungry and kept hoping that the Backlot Cafe would be around the next corner probably didn’t add to our enjoyment.  Obviously, once we found the cafe, we had to try a Butterbeer, which was incredibly sweet, like drinking a packet of melted Werther’s Originals with eight spoonfuls of sugar and a dollop of double cream on top. Diabetes in a tankard.

Butterbeer

Fortified with plenty of fat, carbohydrates and sugar, we continued the tour feeling much jollier. Until we came across the Dursley’s house and I realised that it bore a striking resemblance to my house. Yep, I actually live in Privet Drive. KMN.

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My favourite bits were Diagon Alley, and seeing the beautiful drawings and incredible models that the Art Department made.

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As well as the cost of the tickets and lunch**, there are also plenty of other opportunities to throw your money away buy add-ons, such as having your photo taken ‘flying’ on a broomstick, and of course, there’s the shops. Plural. Three shops in all, the last one almost as big as the entire tour.

My daughter really wanted a Draco Malfoy wand, which retails for £29. For what is basically a stick.

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Meanly/wisely (depending on your viewpoint), we didn’t buy it, telling her she could just go to the park where she could choose from an endless supply of ‘wands’. Instead we pointed her towards the more sensibly priced stationary section.

With lunch and few items from the gift shop, four hours with Harry cost around £200 for four of us. I would definitely recommend it if you’re a HP fan as it was fascinating to see the huge amount of work and skill that went into the films, and the model of Hogwarts at the end is just stunning. And, amazingly, the kids said they kinda enjoyed it too! Result.

 

*Saying things like ‘amazeballs’ may be part of the reason why my children are embarrassed to be seen with me in public…

**To be fair, you could bring your own food and drink and the tour guides told everyone that you could eat this in the cafe.  But I didn’t know this before we got there so wasn’t prepared!