Looking back at 2019

What a difference a year makes…As I look back at what I wrote this time last year, I find myself chuckling at my expectation that we would have “got on with it” and left the EU by now. What’s even worse is this is now the fourth year that I’ve opened with a mention of Brexit. So, in this respect, it seems a year makes almost no difference. However, Boris and his team have managed to gain a sizeable majority at the recent General Election, which brings new hope of change that’ll get Brexit and the economy moving and ensure 2020 gets off to a positive start.

Here at PRG, 2019 has been an exciting year. Following on the heels of our 2018 “annus horribilis”, the PRG family has pulled together and worked hard to make sure that the business grew and prospered.

In the early part of the year, we pitched and were successful in winning a hugely exciting project for another arm of the business of one of our largest clients. Global technology and industrial leader Johnson Controls engaged PRG to run a campaign across the UK, France, Germany and Poland to recruit new Systems Integrator companies to specify their products. We utilised a combination of some incredibly advanced LinkedIn marketing techniques, dedicated web page, email marketing, PR, direct mails that included an amazing video mailer (using a corporate video produced in 4 languages by our friends at Smokescreen Visuals) to achieve some strong results. We’re immensely proud of this project and have already begun on Phase 2 for 2020 – an amazing effort involving everyone at Team PRG.

Kathryn’s been busy this year, focusing on sustainability and putting together a high profile campaign for GoPlasticPallets. With plastic waste in the news, and rightly so, in 2019 we’ve branded them as “The Responsible Plastic Pallet Company” and pushed out the company’s values, led by MD Jim Hardisty’s passionate belief that every single one of the plastic pallets and boxes they supply will be recycled.

The web team have delivered some of their finest websites yet, which have led to some exciting contracts that are just the start of many long-term business relationships. Watch out in the New Year as Ian and the team will be launching a new website for Lamb Chambers in London, as well as one for our new client Marshall Tufflex.

As well as taking her LinkedIn skills to a whole new level of mastery, Jess has been busy generating impressive results for a broad range of clients in a host of sectors, including property guardianship, commercial agency, Stagecoach buses, resin bound driveways (alongside Richard delivering some superb AdWords conversions) and even working with Yasmin to promote Eastbourne’s latest and most appealing property development, The Upperton.

Once again, we worked with the Let’s Do Business Group to put on another very successful Let’s Do Business Brighton Expo at the Amex Stadium back in June. For the first time ever, we sold out stands almost a month before, and the day itself was packed with businesses from all across the South meeting to do business in one place. Amy and I are currently looking for additional sponsors for LDB2020, so please email us if you’d like to know more.

As I write this, Matt is head down putting out a host of panto ads and artwork in all shapes and sizes, for both Eastbourne Theatres and for our long-standing clients Jordan Productions, whose new website is also about to go live.

Yasmin had another very successful year selling hospitality for the Nature Valley International Eastbourne Tennis Tournament, with record numbers turning out to enjoy the sunshine, fine food and drink and world class tennis. We’re taking bookings for 2020, with some days sold out already. We’ve got an exciting new package on offer this year, to complement the current Sky Lounge, so let me know if you’re interested in finding out more.

As well as working with the Let’s Do Business Group to run the exhibition, we’ve also helped them to deliver a series of Brexit-themed seminars and events across East Sussex, aimed at educating business on how to prepare for it as well as promoting all of the services and advice that they can offer. We’ve been helping to deliver marketing consultancy to some of these business as one of LDB’s preferred suppliers, something that we’re very proud of as it allows us to really help all manner of businesses to grow and develop a winning marketing strategy.

We said goodbye to Avril this year, after over 15 years heading up the finance department at PRG, as she headed off to devote more time to her other role in Brighton and to spend more time with her family. Jo has now stepped up to become PRG’s Finance Manager, assuming all of Avril’s duties, working closely with the management team and successfully rising to the challenge of filling some big shoes.

There’s not a day that goes by where we don’t think about Leeky. His absence in the office is still being felt by all of us and we often find ourselves recounting tales of Martyn’s antics. But we’ve tried to focus as a team on raising money for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in his memory. In March, I took part in the inaugural “Jail and Bail” event, where I was locked up along with a bunch of Eastbourne business people down in the cells at the Redoubt Fortress. It was a great day and I managed to raise over £1,600.

In June the whole team, bar Ian, took part in Kapow! A 5K inflatable obstacle course around the park that tested our stamina, but PRG Team 1 actually won the event which was an amazing result. Ian didn’t take part, as a few weeks after this, he completed an ultra-marathon, running just over 100 miles in 26 hours and 49 minutes. I struggle to really fathom how the human body can endure this, but it is a testament to how hard Ian trains that he managed to do it.

Kapow inspired more of us to take up running – me included – but Amy really became driven and began training hard, having not previously been a runner at all. She challenged herself to take on the Beachy Head 10K, one of the country’s toughest courses, at the end of October. She smashed it in 1 hour 19 minutes, a great time that she’s immensely proud of, not to mention all the money she raised for St Wilfrid’s.

PRG were honoured to be nominated for “Best Corporate Team” at the St Wilfrid’s Hospice Business Awards, at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne on 4th October. Up against three other local businesses, we were overjoyed to be chosen as the winners! This means a lot to the PRG family and we are already planning our fund-raising activities for 2020 – starting with the charity pancake race on Tuesday 25th February.

On a personal level, the year feels like it has been a busy one, but balancing work and family is the constant challenge that we all face. I’m now Vice Chair of Governors at Pashley Down, which I still thoroughly enjoy, especially as Lara is now in Year One and loves seeing Daddy around the school. Jenson continues to grow into a fine young man and there’s nothing I love more than a “boys’ day out” with him. Recently, I became a Director of the Eastbourne Business Improvement District (BID) as we try to help improve the appearance, security and marketing of the town centre where PRG’s offices are based, something I am passionate about.

So, as I look back over the last 12 months, I say to myself again, “What a difference a year makes”. I’m hopeful for 2020 and enter it with energy and optimism. I’m incredibly proud of the PRG family and what we’ve achieved this year so I look forward to seeing what we can do in 2020.

As always, a special thanks to some of PRG’s friends that we work closely with – Martin Riley and his business coaching skills that have really helped us to achieve all of this in 2019, our fantastic accountants at Watsons, the team at M-Tech that are always so helpful with all of our I.T. and comms issues, Sam at Sussex Business Times who has been a great supporter of PRG and featured us regularly in the magazine as well as a special thanks to my friends at CountyClean for the quick turnaround on graffiti removal at the back of the office recently!

We shut for Christmas at 5pm on Monday 23rd December, then open again on Thursday 2nd January. As always, I am available on my mobile or email should an emergency arise.

I’d like to wish all of our clients, suppliers and friends a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and positive 2020, from all of us here at the PRG family.

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