Looking back at 2021

It is that time of the year again! Christmas is almost here and we are reaching the end of another busy and eventful year in the PRG family. When I sat down to write last year’s blog, I knew we were on the verge of more Covid restrictions and lockdowns. But I suspected that, once we’d got through them, we would be getting closer to going about our business and back to some sort of normality. Yet, here I am, writing this blog and once again we’re on the verge of more Covid restrictions and lockdowns. I’m starting to feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

But I’m not going to dwell on the current situation, as I’m feeling very optimistic (albeit tired) as I sit back and reflect on 2021. The PRG team has worked incredibly hard this year, achieving so many great things for us and our clients. I’ve actually found it hard to select the highlights from my list, but I’ve had to be ruthless otherwise I fear I’d lose you all before you reached the end.

The year started off with everyone working from home once again, but thanks to the team at M-Tech Systems we were able to work from anywhere seamlessly. However, we all agreed that we like being in the office together and also enjoy being in Eastbourne town centre for those lunchtime walks to clear the head and undertake some retail therapy.

Kathryn and her team have had a very busy, productive and rewarding first year working with Chubb Fire & Security. We have been working across multiple teams and departments delivering a combination of PR support in the UK, Scotland and Ireland, as well as artwork, design, digital content and video production. We’ve helped to launch several key projects and campaigns, including the Fire Door Inspection campaign and the CareUnity Digital dispersed alarm unit that supports people to live independently at home. Big plans are already in place for Q1 and Q2 2022 and we can’t wait to get our teeth into them.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

A highlight for Amy this year has been getting to channel her inner Spielberg to work with a genuine celebrity chef. This summer, as part of a campaign for our client Specflue to promote its new outdoor living range, we worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall down at River Cottage in Devon to produce several promotional videos for their Vulcanus outdoor grill. This was a really exciting project to work on and Hugh was a true professional and very passionate about what he does (the vegetable garden at River Cottage needs to be seen to be believed). You can see some of the videos here.

Ian has been working hard to develop our new website, as well as creating our interactive web proposal system, upgrading our ticketing system and refining our web maintenance and ongoing support systems. The new website will launch in early January and I look forward to sharing it all with you.

Matt in our studio has been developing and refining our branding offering, supported by Amy, as we have developed several new brand propositions for clients, including Hawes Building. We are in the midst of two exciting branding projects for the Bowls Development Alliance, so watch out in the New Year when they launch. Matt has also been enhancing his video editing skills to create some strong client and PRG digital content, adding yet more to our in-house full-service offering.

The team has seen some changes over the course of this year, as Yasmin and Jess have now left to pursue their own ventures. But in the summer, we welcomed Robbie Lees to the PRG team as our new Digital Marketing Executive. Straight away Robbie was thrown in at the deep end, supporting the planning and execution of a hugely successful launch for Churchill’s Fish and Chips when they arrived in Eastbourne. Part of The Chesterford Group, comprising 41 restaurants across the UK, Churchill’s were looking for a PR and Marketing partner who could deliver local knowledge, introductions and help to gain maximum exposure before, during and after the launch events. I’m really proud of what we managed to deliver and thoroughly enjoyed working with James and his team and I’m pleased to see the popularity of Churchill’s in Eastbourne has continued to grow.

At the end of September, we welcomed Ashley Chapman to the PRG team, joining us as an Account Manager with a strong focus on PR and Comms. Straight away Ashley got to work on a raft of clients, including our ongoing PR campaigns for Chubb, but also working closely with Kathryn on our client of over 14 years, GoPlasticPallets, and immersing himself into the Logistics sector. Ashley has quickly established himself and has built strong relationships with the publications in his client’s sectors. Kathryn and Ashley supported GPP this year with hosting their first ever digital presentation at H&SS Live, as Platinum Sponsors for the event. We continue to support them in their mission to “help create more sustainable supply chains by providing long lasting, reusable plastic pallets and boxes, and ensuring they are responsibly recycled at the end of their use” by coming up with innovative ways to promote the company’s products and its pioneering plastic pallet recycling scheme.

We’ve worked hard this year to get our clients working together where we can. A great example of this has been our old friend Grant Phipps (a client and friend to PRG for over 30 years). He is currently Managing Director of Rapid Locking System (RLS) Europe. When we were tasked with creating instruction manuals across multiple languages, we were able to introduce our client Albion Languages and get them to undertake their comprehensive translation service to produce multiple versions of what we required. Both clients were incredibly happy with the outcome and we hope to have them working together in the future.

As you can probably tell, I’m very keen on the relationship side of our business. We value all of our clients and suppliers at PRG and really love building the long-term relationships with them. Grant in particular deserves another mention, as he introduced us to another company in the Berkshire Hathaway group that RLS is part of and we were able to successfully pitch for and win the ongoing marketing, PR and website work for Bailey Products, based up in Birmingham. We’ve got some ambitious plans for them for 2022, once the new website goes live.

We missed working with the LTA on the Eastbourne tennis hospitality in 2021, but it will be making a return in 2022 – details to follow in the New Year, but keep your eyes on our social channels. Matt was incredibly pleased to see theatres, live events and especially panto returning as the year progressed so he could get back into creating all the fantastic promotional artwork that he has enjoyed for so many years.

Eastbourne Bid Christmas

On a local level, we have been heavily involved in working with Eastbourne BID, Visit Eastbourne and the EHA to help to promote Christmas in the town as well as driving to encourage people to Shop Local. We have helped to launch and promote the town’s first real ice rink in over 10 years. Personally, I am incredibly proud of the series of promo videos that we have produced for the EHA and Visit Eastbourne, mainly because they feature my wife Jo, and children Jenson and Lara in lots of the shots. One of the videos is currently on the homepage of the Visit Eastbourne website, so please click and take a look.

Jo and I have tried to invest in the office environment this year, getting everything decorated inside, new carpets throughout and upgrading the meeting room facilities. Next year’s challenge is the exterior decoration, so fingers crossed for some decent weather in the spring.

Next year will see PRG push harder with our core PR offering locally, nationally and in specific industries, so watch out for our coverage in the press and online. Robbie and Ian have been working hard to develop PRG’s digital offering and our new SEO and web packages are now built and rolling out, with an aggressive strategy in place for 2022.

We are aiming to focus on raising more money for charity this coming year, as Covid has meant that we have not raised as much as in previous years. We will be, once again, supporting St Wilfrid’s Hospice as it is a charity that has for years now been very close to our hearts. We already have Robbie signed up for the first event in March, where he will be imprisoned for their Jail and Bail fundraiser as I did in 2019.

I’d like to again thank Martin Riley for all of the support this year as he has helped us grow as a company and as a management team, working with myself, Jo, Ian and Kathryn as a group and individually, but also running a whole company workshop. I urge anyone looking to dip their toe in the water of working with a business coach to look at his Business Jet Engine toolkit and offering. Also, a big thanks to the team at Watsons Accountants and particularly Ian Hamblyn, who provides strong guidance on all things financial for Jo and I.

On a personal note, Jo and I have embraced the challenges of running a business together during a pandemic. Exhausting at times, but hugely rewarding when we look at what has been achieved. The kids continue to grow into wonderful human beings. For the first time, they are now at the same school together and both doing well despite having spent some of the year being educated at home.

Michael from Identity and Simon from PRG at Silverstone

Jenson and I had a brilliant adventure this summer, taking a trip to Silverstone for the British GP. We went with Michael Gietzen from Identity and his son Joey and Michael was fortunate to have been given four passes for the Paddock Club, so our jolly boys outing turned into the best seats in the house for the first ever Sprint Race format weekend. Hats off to Max Verstappen for winning the title this year, regardless of the circumstances of THAT final lap.

Ray and Denny are fighting fit. We celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in November at The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, who I can’t thank enough for making it a truly memorable visit.

Ray and Denny Golden Anniversary

The team have worked incredibly hard against a backdrop of lockdowns, restrictions and becoming home school teachers again, so I am incredibly proud of them and grateful for all of the hard work in 2021. The office closes at the end of the day on December 23rd, then we are all back to work and will be raring to go on January 4th. As is always the case, I am available on my mobile or on email should an emergency arise.

I’d like to wish all of our amazing clients, suppliers, supporters and friends a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2022, from me, Jo and all of the PRG family.

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