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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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. 

Merry Christmas? #3LineTales

It’s been a busy few weeks while we’ve been off for the summer holidays. I sent my children’s book to several agents…I can now consider myself alongside the likes of JK Rowling as I’ve had my first rejection email!  Woohoo!

I’m currently working on a ‘cosy mystery’ novel, trying to fix some major plot holes before I hand it over to my editor at the beginning of October.

Less than two weeks to go before school starts. Chances of me signing to an agent/finding freelance work/winning the lottery before then??  Answers on a postcard etc etc.

In the meantime, here’s a quick Three Line Tale using the photo prompt below:

Merry Christmas?

Jeff bounced up and down on his chair, clearly desperate for me to open the oddly shaped present, covered in Santa wrapping paper. ‘Careful! It’s fragile.’

I gently pulled off the paper to reveal the hideous remains of a horrible snake type creature, its huge jaw lined with ferocious sharp teeth. ‘I got it off Ebay. Emily’s going to love it; it’s amazing!’

Emily did not appear amazed, choosing instead to suck on her toes. ‘Well, it’s certainly unusual, Jeff,’ I said, ‘but I’m not sure it’s quite appropriate for our six-month old baby’s first Christmas.’

photo by Samuel Zeller via Unsplash
Photo by Samuel Zeller via Unsplash

Thinking About You

‘A party?? No way; you’ve got exams coming up. You need to start buckling down and thinking about your future.’

I stopped the car and Lizzy opened the passenger door. ‘Oh my god, you won’t let me do anything. I hate you!’

She slammed the door and, dragging her rucksack on the ground behind her, stropped off towards the school gates.

Aggghhhh. Teenagers. I breathed deeply to calm down, pulled out into the road and turned on the radio.

‘…the singer had already left the stage when the explosion occurred. 22 people, including children have been killed, with more than 60 injured.’

I listened to the rest of the news, barely able to take in what had happened. Innocent children murdered at a joyous occasion. Families destroyed. Parents devastated.

The news finished and one of my favourite songs came on. I started to sing along, but I heard the words properly for the first time; my voice cracked and tears started to flood down my face. Tears for the families left behind. Tears for the parents who would never see their children again. Tears for those who died, scared and alone, thinking about their loved ones.

When I heard that sound
When the walls came down
I was thinking about you
About you

When my skin grows old
When my breath runs cold
I’ll be thinking about you
About you

 When I run out of air to breathe
It’s your ghost I see
I’ll be thinking about you, about you

I pulled the car over and grabbed my phone, hitting the saved number. Pick up, pick up.

‘What?’

‘Go to the party. Buy something new. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your life.’

‘Thank you!’

‘I love you, Lizzy.’

‘Love you too. Later.’

‘Yes. I’ll see you later.’

***

Lyrics from Skin by Rag’n’Bone Man © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Songwriters: Dan Bryer / Jamie Scott / Jonny Coffer / Mike Needle / Rory Graham

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A story using the photo prompt above for the Friday Fictioneers.

The tragic events of Manchester have been constantly on my mind this week and my heart goes out to the families and friends of those murdered and injured in this senseless attack.