Looking back at 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect upon what an exciting year it’s been at PRG. We’ve seen plenty of change, but the things that make PRG great have remained constant. We’ve said goodbye to some members of the team, whilst welcoming new ones into the family, invested heavily in the PRG office space, brought several major new clients onboard and delivered some absolutely fantastic projects. I couldn’t be more proud of the team and what they’ve all achieved in 2023.

In the wider world, we’ve witnessed the Coronation of King Charles III, which feels a huge change given many of us had only ever known the Queen as our Monarch (and I still find myself singing “God save our gracious Queen” whenever it’s time to crank out the National Anthem). It was yet another wonderful event that made you proud to be British, as the country came together united again. A tip of the hat to our good friends at Identity here in Eastbourne for creating and running such a spectacular event.

Speaking of Eastbourne – our wonderful seaside town is currently hosting the Turner Prize at our own Towner Art Gallery, just up the road from PRG’s offices. I had the honour of presenting the team at Towner with the Creative Excellence Award at the Eastbourne Business Awards earlier this year. A well-deserved win!

At PRG, we’ve had an exciting year, filled with growth and change. In fact, we are still growing and are on the hunt for our next PR Manager. Do you know anyone with a PR skillset who would be interested in working with PRG? If so, please share our job ad with them and send them my way.

As our Business Coach Martin Riley wisely advises, we strive to see change as opportunity and we embrace it. In the Spring, we said goodbye to Robbie as he headed off to Australia to travel with his partner. But we welcomed Adam on board as our new Digital Marketing Manager, who swiftly got stuck into the local work for Eastbourne BID as we prepare to ask traders to vote for it again later this coming year. He’s also delivered an excellent six-month social media campaign for Herstmonceux Castle, driving footfall and membership applications over the summer.

Adam and I took a road trip to Sudbury earlier in the year to see our client Specflue and their Italian suppliers MCZ, as well as a group of stove dealers from across the East. On the back of this, we have been engaged in a large digital marketing and awareness campaign, promoting MCZ’s stylish range of pellet stoves in four counties and driving footfall to these dealers.

In March we also welcomed Laura into the PR team, who joined us from her previous role as Senior Editor of the Eastbourne Herald. Laura has been working on the Chubb and Carrier accounts initially, as well as using her local knowledge to drive local comms for the BID. Her speed at which she can deliver top quality content has been eye-opening.

We’ve had some exciting new client wins over the course of 2023, notably in the HVAC sector where we are actively expanding our reach. Following our completion of an impressive customer case study video, we were delighted to begin working with Toshiba in the UK. This really is a testament to the hard work that Ashley, Kathryn and Laura have put in with Carrier and the results that have been delivered. We recently began working with Riello Burners in the UK, another part of the Carrier family, then in January we will be commencing work with Vokera Boilers. I’m really proud of the success we are achieving with these great clients, I can’t really do it all justice in one blog.

Kathryn has continued to lead and inspire the PR and Marketing team as it has grown and developed, whilst being involved in many of our key accounts. In March, outside of work, Kathryn and her family headed off on an epic and well-deserved adventure holiday, spending three weeks travelling around some of the most beautiful parts of Australia.

The Chubb account, steered by Kathryn and worked on by most of the team in some shape, has brought some brilliant challenges for us. A particular highlight has been the creation of 10 extensive value propositions for the vertical markets that the Chubb team will be targeting going forwards. This has been a mammoth task, involving lengthy workshops with many Chubb team members in various departments, lead by Kathryn and Ashley and turned into detailed playbooks.

In October, Kathryn, Ashley and I attended the annual Carrier Customer Conference. If you remember last year, it was at the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes, and I was very excited! Well, this year, we were at Wembley Stadium! Having never been there before, I was blown away by the scale of the venue and Carrier certainly put on a fantastic event. Topping it in 2024 is going to be quite the challenge!

As well as all of the great work I’ve already mentioned for Chubb and Carrier, Ashley has had his hands full with two other new clients that we’ve been working with this year. Dallmer and Taconova are both European-based companies looking to make a bigger splash in the UK and have chosen to work with PRG to deliver increased profile and presence here.

Ash and Adam have also been creating some superb and engaging social content for the guys over at Long Man Brewery. We’ve helped them to launch some cracking new beers, promote some  launch events and even been involved in connecting them with the team at Towner, which led to them becoming drink sponsors for the launch of the Turner Prize – a huge and prestigious event.

This year was a landmark year for Amy as she turned 40 (and will not be impressed that I’m publicly reminding everyone). Working with Matt, Amy has really developed a strong branding offering which we have rolled out and successfully delivered several projects locally that are high profile and have been incredibly well received. As well as launching the rebranded Janet Sinden Solicitors at the start of the year, the team worked to create the Tall Guy Coffee brand for PRG’s good friend Carl Bird as he sought to leave the Coffee Republic franchise. We also rolled out the Handpicked Flowers branding, but helped them to expand the use of it, as their growth required the addition of sub brands including “Handpicked To Go” and “Handpicked Hampers”.

The branding team got to really flex their creativity with an existing client of PRG, CC Chauffeurs. Offering a high end corporate chauffeur service to a wide range of clients, the business was now moving to a more global offering and needed a brand to match. We worked with our old friend Jon Dow to really tap into what made the business special and to find a new name and identity that would propel the business forwards. Working closely with Jon, we developed and launched Go-Guru, including the new brand and website. We are hugely proud of this, as it was a bold step and one where the client and PRG embarked on an exciting journey together.

When not working away with her clients ETC, MST and Bailey, Amy has also cemented herself as PRG’s “Problem Solver and Fixer”. Our long-standing client and friend, Grant at Rapid Locking System, got caught out by courier failures with his expo stand in Germany, when he was exhibiting with our other clients Bailey at a trade show. Cue Amy stepping in, sourcing local suppliers, getting Matt to rush artwork through and getting graphics onto the stand in record time.

Speaking of Matt, he’s continued to upskill with video editing, developing new branding as already mentioned, supporting PRG’s clients and also his raft of artwork support clients like Eastbourne Theatres, who he delivers high quality, imaginative artwork for, to tight deadlines. Matt has an eye for detail and that came in handy this year when Chubb engaged us to produce a raft of promotional material, in various languages, that needed to be shipped to multiple addresses across the UK and Europe. He loves a challenge and this was one that he delivered perfectly.

Recently, we bid a very heavy-hearted farewell to Ian after 14 years as part of the team and heading up our website offering. When Ian arrived at PRG, we had only really dabbled in a bit of basic brochure website design. Bringing in our first proper developer helped us to grow this side of the business and has led to us creating some amazing and technically advanced sites for a huge range of clients. Ian has moved on to join the development team at Wealden Council, offering him some fresh challenges and being part of a large team. I am very pleased for him and we all wish him well. The good news is that he is staying very much part of the family and he joined us to celebrate at the Eastbourne Business Awards.

Jo has been a busy lady this year, not just with handling all of PRG’s finance and HR functions, as she is driving the investment that we are making in the PRG premises. Anyone who has visited, or indeed driven past the office in recent times will have seen how tired it was looking. Well, that is all changing! We invested in new desks and kit for Kathryn’s team earlier in the year, and we’re just moving on to Matt’s room in the New Year with a bit of help from the brilliant team at Fieldskill. Big thanks to Steve and LED Lighting UK who has done a fantastic job of installing energy efficient LED lighting throughout the building (and a big thanks to our friends at DP Goodwin for all of the electrical work carried out). The scaffold is now up on the front of the building, new PVC windows have been installed and, as I type, we have the guys from Colbran and Wingrove working on redecorating the front of the building. Can’t wait to share the “after” pictures with you in the New Year.

From my perspective, I’ve had a great year steering the change and working with our brilliant team and clients. We worked our last year selling the hospitality for the Eastbourne Tennis Tournament, as we handed over to the Keith Prowse Agency. I’m still giving them a little bit of local knowledge and support, so let me know if you are interested in booking for 2024.

In September, our friends at Switchplane organised the first Eastbourne Digifest, aiming to showcase the digital talent that exists here in Eastbourne and to help foster future career growth in this sector. It was a resounding success and PRG was proud to be involved, helping with promotion, taking an exhibition stand and even a fantastic talk on Sustainable Marketing from our very own Adam.

As part of our HVACR sector focus, Laura and I attended the H&V News Awards in late November, where both Carrier and Toshiba picked up awards. We plan to attend more industry events in the coming year, so watch out for us.

As a family, we’ve had a busy year. In May, the Groves clan (Ray and Denny included) took a holiday of a lifetime trip to Florida, spending two weeks enjoying Disney World, Universal Studios and everything that Orlando has to offer. It was a wonderful trip, although I came back shattered!

The kids continue to make me incredibly proud of what they are achieving. Jenson has moved football teams, along with the rest of his mates, and now plays for Stone Cross Royals (and guess who sponsored the kit)! He is thriving at Cavendish School, which doesn’t surprise me as it’s a brilliant school, and has been voted a Tutor Representative and onto the School Council.

In a similar vein, Lara has been voted as Class MP for her Year 5 class at Ocklynge, which will mean she gets to go to the Houses of Parliament next year – what an experience! She’s also been helping Eastbourne BID to promote Christmas in the town and appeared on the cover of the PRG-produced BID Christmas magazine. In lieu of allowing us to use her on the cover, she was invited  by the Council to attend Eastbourne Panto Civic night last week, where she got to meet the cast and the Mayor.

Jo and I continue to juggle work and home, as everyone does, but we decided that life wasn’t complicated enough…. So, in the summer we decided to get two kittens! Absolutely wonderful and infuriating in equal measures!

Whilst I thoroughly enjoy my annual reflection blog, this year more than ever I am looking forwards to the year ahead. In the wake of Ian’s departure, we have brought in a talented new team member that brings many additional strings to our bow. Guy has large agency experience behind him, a lengthy design background and has moved into website development. He is going to be working closely with Matt and Adam in the New Year as we relaunch our Digital and Design offering into the marketplace. I’m really excited to get out there and share this with existing and new clients as we grow and build on the great work that PRG has done over the last 43 years.

Coupled with this, we will continue to expand our reach within the HVACR and Building Services sector. As mentioned, we commence work with Vokera Boilers in January, as well as several other new and exciting clients in the sector, but I’ll keep those under my hat for now. Together with our HVACR expert and consultant Andrew Bailey, we have big plans for 2024.

On a local level, we continue to strive to be involved with many of the key businesses and groups in our area. Eastbourne BID goes to reballot in the summer as we look to renew for another five years, so PRG will be spearheading the comms around this. We continue to support several important local charities that are dear to our heart, including St Wilfrid’s Hospice and The Children’s Respite Trust, as well as sponsoring Eastbourne Youth Radio again, as we did this year.

As you can tell, I’m excited for what 2024 holds for PRG. I couldn’t be more proud of the superb team of absolute stars that make up the PRG family and I’m also incredibly grateful to them all for everything that they do! So, again, if you know anyone who would like to be a part of this journey, please send them our job ad!

PRG closes on Friday 22nd and we will be back in the office on Tuesday 2nd January and firing on all cylinders. Any emergencies, please contact me on my mobile as always (07765 031145). I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, have a wonderful and relaxing festive break and I look forward to powering in to 2024.


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