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Life After Winning an Award

After the weirdest probably most difficult year in history, there are some silver linings. At this time of year, lots of award results are announced and if your brand is one of the lucky ones, then congratulations!

Here is our checklist on how to make the most of your award win:

  1. Update your website first. If you have a blog – write a blog, even a short one will do!  You can also add it to the blurb on About Us page if it fits well. Do update the images on the website, by adding your award logo to any product shots, you can usually add a button in the editor, but if not, simply edit the original image and overlay the award logo in Photoshop and then upload the image again.
  2. Post the news to social media – Don’t just put up a picture of the product, social media should be social, take a picture of you or your whole team holding the winning product and looking really happy. Make it real for people. People will remember that shot far longer than a simply product shot.
  3. Update your packaging as soon as humanly possible. If you have the capacity (and budget) you can have your packaging modified and reprinted. Many businesses do not want to wait this long (or don’t have the budget) so they add stickers to each and every product in the interim period. (The perfect holiday job for someone?!)
  4. Update your images. Either use the button option described in [1] or if you have a designer who can create a mock-up that might work ok or have the packing reshot by a professional photographer if necessary but make sure your images are up to date.
  5. Update your online retailers once you have the new pack shots or mock-ups, then distribute the new images to all your retailers and them to update their websites. If you have a good relationship with the retailer, ask them to mention your award in the product descriptions too.
  6. If applicable, use the feedback document to pick out some testimonials for your social media. “The most delicious coconut ice cream we have ever tasted”. Testimonials don’t need to be long sentences, something simple like “deliciously indulgent” would work fine. Use Canva to make testimonial memes with text overlaying your most delicious looking product images.
  7. PR yourself! Send a newsletter to your list of customers and suppliers. Don’t forget friends and family too, they are your network too and usually your biggest advocates.
  8. Write a blog for your website. You can do something quick on the day you find out. Don’t be afraid to follow up a week or two later with how it’s going, what’s changed since you won your award?
  9. Give a testimonial. Always give a testimonial when you’re asked (assuming you think it’s good!). Often award organisers use your testimonial on their own promotional materials, spreading your visibility even wider.
  10. Write a press release for your local newspapersYou can follow a template or pay someone to draft a release or simply jot down the basics and phone your local newspaper and tell them your story. Have an image of you and your product though, it’s often the people angle that the local newspapers like.

Good luck! If you want any extra help you know where to find us!

All the best,

The team at SR x

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A Decade of Sharp Relations

Wow, where has this year gone?   Or more to the point, where have the last ten years gone?   You may not believe it, but this month marks the tenth anniversary for Sharp Relations.  At the beginning of November 2010, AJ packed up her London flat, handed in her notice at a large London agency and returned to Kent with one goal; to set up her own agency to promote the best bits of the Garden of England and beyond.

‘And beyond’ is key here as in the last ten years the company has followed AJ to Wales, Scotland, Kent, back to Scotland, down to Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and then back to Kent.  On her travels she managed to pick up a husband, dog and two children.  The company has grown and shrunk as the demands of life have required but since returning to Kent in 2018 Sharp Relations has reaffirmed its roots in the heart of the county we love best, working with some of the UK’s most exciting foods and drinks brands. 

The past 12 months have been such a dichotomy.  From navigating our own way and guiding our clients through some unbelievably tough times, but we’ve kept the faith, worked hard and Sharp Relations has gone from strength to strength; growing from just AJ and Aber the dog to a team of five (and Aber). Establishing our own office, launching several new business arms including this month’s unveiling of Sharpen Your Brand and, most excitingly (for AJ), getting a very smart sign to go on the wall!

Sharpen Your Brand is our new communications coaching arm. For start-ups, small and growing brands who are looking for someone to coach them through what they should be doing to grow their business with marketing. We provide second opinions, answer questions, give support and guidance.  Find out more on our new website www.sharpenyourbrand.co.uk everything currently generously discounted until 31st of January 2021. The idea for this new business arm came about, when I noticed how many people were phoning AJ and the team every week and asking “can you help me work out what I need?” Or “do you think this is a good deal?” The answer always requires a bit more context and a lot more strategic thought. So, Sharpen Your Brand was developed as a communications coaching programme to help provide new and growing businesses with clarity and confidence in their communications. Put simply, what they need to say, to whom, and how? In the long term, a strategic communication plan will save a lot of time and money for a small business.

So, what has November got on offer for us?  As I look out of the office, I can see incredible autumnal colours on the trees as the seasons change and cows have acquired some sheep to keep them company – don’t worry, they’re in a separate field.  As the evenings close in fires and wood burners across the county have been fired up from their summer slumber.  I love an evening drink warming myself in front of the fire, enter our latest client – Anno Distillers.  What could be more perfect than a Gin and Tonic as the evening closes in?  We are so excited to work on the launch of Anno’s latest product; Anno Extreme 95, the spirit of alchemy.   Renowned to be the strongest gin in the world, crucially packing more punch and flavour, drop for drop, than any other spirit in the world.  The analogy of ‘less is more’ fits perfectly here, getting more botanical flavours from less spirit, a win win in my book.

As Jo mentioned last month, with uncertainty ahead, we strongly believe in supporting local, ethical and sustainable food businesses.  If you’re unsure what is available check out the Buy Local South East website and search for your local producers and retailers.

Our charities of choice this season will be the Kent Community Pantry and Live Well Kent, both local charities that we think will be crucial in the coming month as we face another lockdown, let’s all look out for each other and get through this together!

Merry MO-vember, I’ll post a picture at the end of the month!

Martin

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October Update

Another productive month has flown by here at Sharp Relations HQ. With Christmas requests in full swing we can almost taste the mince pies and hear the carols ringing in our ears. We are driving a sleigh full of samples around the UK Media Houses as we near the big day!

Our clients have been just as busy, leading UK soft fruit growers, Hugh Lowe Farms, has launched its coveted Mini Berries Grown by Hugh Lowe Farms in Waitrose and Ocado. OGGS® has devised a number of winter recipes using its new patented liquid egg alternative Aquafaba, and food delivery service Caraway & Rye has launched its hotly anticipated healthy locally-sourced restaurant quality food home delivery service, available from the website.

We are really excited to be working with specialist wine merchant Champagnes & Chateaux, a leading specialist wine merchant in the UK since 1989. It is bringing its exclusive portfolio of quality wines direct to the consumer for the first time.

We spend so much time telling our clients how important it is to have quality current and high res images. The team enjoyed a hilarious morning in front of the camera shooting new headshots for the Sharp Relations website and social media platforms. The sun was shining, and the breeze was warm -we were lucky to avoid the rain! While we have had the awkward pleasure (insert cheesy grin here) of having staff pictures taken before, doing so in a socially distanced way was a new one for all of us. But we need not have worried as the expertise of local photographer Annie B and her clever direction managed to capture us all together, despite being safely distanced. We were all in agreement that Aber, the office dog, takes the biscuit for the most photogenic teammate. Check out the pictures over on our Instagram page.

Back in the office we have been putting our heads together to launch a completely new brand analysis and communications consultancy arm to the business. We want our clients to get the best start to launching their business and we are passionate about guiding them through this, saving them time and money in the process. It’s under wraps right now but we can’t wait to tell you more in the coming weeks.

With winter on the way and some uncertain times ahead we don’t know exactly what the next season will bring, but we are committed to supporting local, ethical and sustainable food businesses.

I’m the Pro Bono coordinator, so if you know of any charities doing great things with food, or local brands really going the extra mile in the name of sustainability, then please get in touch with me on jo@sharprelations.com.

Keep warm!

Jo x

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September Update

Wow, what a whirlwind the last few months have been! Here at Sharp Relations, we have been busy welcoming both new clients and new members of staff to the team. As the world has figured out how to work in a pandemic, the team here has adjusted well to working either from home or from a safe distance in the office.

In July, we welcomed Amy Goodier-Porter to the team to work across all the brands and businesses in our portfolio. Amy has a wealth of experience from across the food industry, she has run her own bakery business, she was sales and marketing manager for a large food manufacturer for two years then a stint in local retail before joining our team. We are so pleased she has decided to join us and is already bringing a lot of energy and ideas to the team. We’re also delighted to welcome the lovely Jo Rose back from maternity leave, she has jumped straight back in, bringing her infectious enthusiasm with her. Welcome back Jo!

Our clients have excelled in adapting and changing with these turbulent times. Macknade managed to launch a fully operational delivery service in just a matter of days and Produced in Kent have provided immeasurable support to local Kent businesses by launching the Help Kent Buy Local scheme and the microsite to support shopping locally in our communities.

We have been super excited to support ethical brand OGGS® to bring Aquafaba to the market, now available in 3 of the big 4 supermarkets. It has been fantastic to see this innovative new plant-based liquid egg alternative, which started as a dream of OGGS® founder Hannah Carter, through to its arrival on shelves and appearance in recipes throughout the UK. We have loved pulling in coverage and generating interest across the media.

The team here are thrilled to have started work with new clients Caraway and Rye on the launch of its ‘Restaurant Without Walls’ food delivery service; Sobersauce, who has set up an online shop for the best tasting alcohol-free beers on the market; and Provenance Potatoes, a great supporter of local farmers, on its launch of new family sized bags sourced from the best quality potatoes and distributed through independent stores across the South. Scottish craft beer brand Fallen Brewing has returned to our portfolio as we support their team to share the news about their fantastic re-branding of the beer using artwork from a talented Scottish GP who put pen to beer can during the summer.

We have been delighted to see local growers, producers and retailers greatly appreciated during the pandemic as so much of our story is encouraging people to continue to shop local wherever possible. The next few months look to be a challenging time for small businesses, and we are keen to ensure our offering here at Sharp Relations continues to adapt with the times. We understand that clients are looking for security and reassurance in these stormy times and we have responded by adding to our offering with bespoke results-based packages.

If you want a no obligation opinion on your own communications strategies, just general marketing advice or you just fancy a ‘love-in’ about local or sustainable foods, then feel free to give us a call, drop us a message on Instagram or email hello@sharprelations.com.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Claire x

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April Update

What’s going on at Sharp Relations? Well, it’s not been quiet that’s for sure! We’ve seen enormous changes to the way our clients are operating, from the rapid execution of a new online sales portal to home delivery solutions. We’ve offered product PR, business PR, crisis PR, media training, screen testing, media relations, feature article writing, new launch pitches, reputation management, set up countless interviews, screened countless interviewers created case studies and offered social media advice and support. Phew! All turned around within days, sometimes hours.  

Additionally, we’ve been invited by four different companies to pitch for new business. Two I’m delighted to announce we won and are now working on, and two we’re waiting to hear back.

For some businesses, particularly the smaller artisan clients, we’re getting the best coverage we ever have for them. Opportunities to shout about home delivery services and online sales are higher than ever, over the past 30 days our clients have been mentioned in The Telegraph, Vegan Life, The Sun, Top Santé, Yours, Prima, Woman’s Own, The Daily Mail, GQ Magazine, The Times, The Guardian, BBC Radio KENT, KMFM to name only a few.

We’ve had a few team changes to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus and so we can continue to offer our usually high standard of service to our clients: Our lovely Claire Hernandez has opted to take furlough for a month or so, her husband is a keyworker and she is home-schooling two small children at home, so it made sense. We are very lucky to have the wonderful Clare Pope MCIPR join us during this time to help us make the most of the many opportunities on behalf of our clients. And we are really looking forward to welcoming Jo Rose back from maternity leave, she will be in and out of the office (figuratively not literally) over the next few months, re-acquainting herself with all the client accounts.

We have given some time to a pro bono project for a band of nibble-needled locals who are fundraising and making much needed scrubs for Ashford, Folkstone and Dover hospitals. Melissa Dawkins of Made in Ashford has been co-ordinating the efforts in East Kent, follow this link to find out more.

Some of our food service clients and restaurants are having a tough time at the moment. All we can ask is please do support your local pubs and restaurants in any way that you can. If you can, please do buy takeaway regularly, or use the delivery service, or the local shop setup or simply purchase vouchers for a later date. These companies really need our support.

Keep going everyone!

E-Hugs from

The Team at Sharp Relations x

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A Food and Drinks PR and Marketing Guide to Surviving Covid-19:

There’s no doubt that these are extremely challenging times but what can you do to help maintain sales for your food or drinks business?  

The team here is talking to publishers and working with marketing specialists all day, every day and these are our top tips for keeping your company sales as healthy (as possible) in such challenging times:

Keep providing comments – Nearly all news-based media outlets want content related to the virus. They want to know how it will affect your business or your customers. They want to hear about the challenges as well as the good news stories. Do share stories about how you or your teams are helping people during this this time.

Push your online offering – The food and drink media is continuing to generate content as normal, although we have seen a shift in demand for products which can be bought online or for home-delivery.

Home-delivery – A number of shops and restaurants have already started a home delivery service for people in self-isolation, is this something you could offer?

Products – We have received a lot of content themes related to immunity boosting properties, high nutrition or long shelf life. Is this relevant to any of your products or dishes?

Recipes – These are still requested as frequently as ever. The consensus is that people want to create dishes that use fewer ingredients, can be frozen or suited to batch cooking.

Online Media – The shift from print media to online media is already well documented but we expect to see this process accelerating over the next few months. We think it’s possible some print publications may not survive this period, instead devoting all future resources to their online counterparts.

Think about where your customers will be – At the moment, most people in low-risk categories are still going about life fairly normally. But the expectation is that self-isolating is going to increase, a lot, and potential customers are going to be at home. We think they will have more time to read (especially online), so keep generating online content and write your newsletters too.

Up your social media – Keep this content going. Keep it light, aspirational and positive about the future, if you can. Share your good news stories. Share the help and support you’ve given or received.

Keep pushing out content – The good news is that requests for stories, new products and content continues to flow into us here, so we can carry on as usual generating coverage for our clients. So, you can too. Get on to twitter and search for #journorequest and see what the media is talking about with respect to your particular area of expertise.

Keep shopping locally – And shout about it. It has never been so important to shop locally and buy local produce, than right now. Shout about it on social media, not once, repeatedly. We need to help keep each other in business during this time.

Keep reaching out to your customers, your suppliers and your communities, if you can. Ask for help when you need it.  Don’t forget the Produced in Kent Members Group or The Food Hub Group on Facebook is a great place to reach out.  Look after each other.

Remember, “this too shall pass.”

E-Hugs from the team at Sharp Relations x

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