Double gold win at CIPR PRide Awards

We had a great night up in Bristol on Friday 20 November, coming home with gold awards in two categories at the CIPR Pride Awards for the South of England and Channel Islands.

The awards scheme recognises and rewards outstanding work in public relations carried out by businesses based in 14 counties, from Cornwall to Kent.

We were successful for our campaign promoting Padstow Christmas Festival, which won in the Best Use of Media Relations and Low Budget Campaign categories.

Judges considered our work on the event “a strong, well researched campaign which delivered great coverage, contributing to both sponsorship targets and record visitor numbers.”

They said: “One might not think of an exposed, Atlantic Cornish harbour as traditional winter destination, but this campaign cleverly challenged perceptions and successfully positioned Padstow as a year round tourism destination, with more than a famous fish restaurant at its core. A considered, tactical and integrated campaign was delivered against clear and measurable objectives. A worthy winner.”

This is the sixth consecutive year that we have won at the Pride Awards, accumulating eight gold and three silver awards since 2010, including the Outstanding Small Consultancy in 2013 (gold) and 2014 (silver).

The most credible regional awards in the public relations industry, the PRide Awards recognise and reward outstanding work across nine UK regions and nations. They are a celebration of exceptional talent and a reflection of public relations best practice.

The following 14 counties are able to enter the CIPR South of England and Channel Islands PRide Awards: Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Somerset, Surrey, The Channel Islands, West Sussex, and Wiltshire.

There was also success for other Cornish agencies, with silver awards going to MPAD in the Outstanding Small Consultancy category, and The Vine for Integrated Campaign. Laura Hicks from Truro agency Wild Card won the Outstanding Young Communicator award. See the full results here.

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The Cornwall table was a happy place to be with MPAD and Laura Hicks from Wild Card also taking home awards. Photo: Steve Pope/Fotowales

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The Barefoot team with Sarah Pinch (second left), 2015 President of the CIPR. Photo: Steve Pope/Fotowales

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We were stunned to be called up on stage twice to receive awards. Photo: Steve Pope/Fotowales

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A giant Scalextric track saw some competitive racing after dinner. Photo: Steve Pope/Fotowales

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And there was a dressing up box. Photo: Steve Pope/Fotowales

Building a following for Padstow Christmas Festival

Located around the harbour in the fishing town of Padstow, the annual event has grown to become one of the major food and drink festivals in the South West. Funding for the festival comes from sponsorship and sales of the Padstow Festival Cookbook.

Working with Padstow Christmas Festival since 2012, Barefoot’s objectives have centred around increasing attendance and spend at the festival, securing sponsors and maximising their brand exposure and working to establish the event on the national radar.

Research and Planning

Data from a 2013 questionnaire of 1,082 visitors allowed research of demographics and motivations for attending the festival. Half of the visitors to the festival were Cornish residents, so regional media was therefore a vital focus. We worked to strengthen relationships with media partners, including Cornwall Today and BBC Radio Cornwall.

Through the partnership with Cornwall Today, in 2014 we were successful in securing eight pages of editorial over three issues including chef interviews, recipe features, diary date mentions and a four-page feature on the festival highlights.

Our strategy was to get people excited about experiencing the festival’s packed programme of family fun, fireworks, chef demonstrations and Christmas market. We targeted long-lead media with methodical, well-researched pitches throughout the summer and autumn and gained coverage in the national travel and lifestyle press including The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Delicious and Great British Food.


Chef demonstrations were identified as being a vital draw for visitors to the festival. Securing big-name chefs such as Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth, Brian Turner and Jack Stein at press calls on the Friday of the event as well as supplying quotes from Rick Stein to the press gained coverage in the weekend papers. We also tap into the influential social media followings of the chefs to help to spread the word and draw in the crowds.

Working with the festival over a number of years allowed us to build a strong image library for Padstow Christmas Festival, enabling us to begin to sell-in image led features. The launch of the Padstow Festival Cookbook also provided us with content to sell into national and regional food and lifestyle media, offering recipe content and chef profiles.

We sought to extend the reach of the campaign as well as bring brand awareness for stakeholders with competitions featuring gifts offered by the festival sponsors sold into national and regional outlets.


In 2014, the festival saw record visitor numbers, with 45,000 attending over the four days of the event. The 2014 campaign generated 125 pieces of coverage across print, online and broadcast, securing investment in a two year sponsorship deal with Sharp’s Brewery.


Padstow Christmas Festival won gold at the 2015 Cornwall Tourism Awards in the Best Tourism Event category.

Our campaign won two gold awards in the Best Use of Media Relations and Low Budget Campaign categories at the CIPR PRide Awards 2015. Judges described our work as “a strong, well-researched campaign which delivered great coverage, contributing to both sponsorship targets and record visitor numbers.”

How to secure a good internship

Internships can be a bit of a mixed bag. We’ve all heard horror tales of interns working long hours for no pay with little hope of a job offer at the end – but not all internships are like this. You’ve just got to know which are the right ones to apply for.

There are so many variables that can make your internship enjoyable – from the type of agency, to staff morale, to the work you’re entrusted with – or even just the time of year you’ve come in. But if you want to get ahead in your chosen career, internships are the best way of getting your foot in the door and deciding whether this career really is for you.

As a well-worn work experience veteran, here are my tips on finding and securing that worthwhile internship:

How to spot a good internship opportunity

  • Make sure they offer to pay minimum wage, at least. Good companies will pay minimum wage or more, particularly for long stints. Don’t work for more than two weeks with no pay whatsoever – that is more than enough time to get a feel for the company.
  • Find a company which fits your interests. Whether it’s high fashion or organic food, there are so many agencies out there to apply to. Hunt around for a company that really catches your eye. The more interesting you find their work, the more likely it is that you’ll enjoy your time there.
  • Do your research. Linked In is perfect for tracking down possible employers and tracing their career path. If any staff members started out as interns, it’s a good sign there is room for progression.
  • Look out for up-and-coming companies. If they’ve recently won awards or secured a string of new clients, they are likely to need more help and have possible job openings – plus have the budget to pay for an intern.
  • Ask what tasks you will be doing before you commit. This will give you a clear understanding of what you are likely to learn – or whether it will just be a case of making tea and photocopying. It’s better to know what is in store for you, then you can decide whether it’s worth taking up.
  • Don’t be afraid to send off speculative enquiries. Your chosen company might not have a formal internship scheme, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for help. Find the assistant to the main boss – be it account director or editor – and send them your CV and covering letter.

How to secure the internship once you’ve spotted it

  • Make your email professional. Spelling and grammar mistakes are an absolute no-no. If you know the name of person you are writing to, use it. Emails starting ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ when the addressee is obvious won’t get you anywhere. And don’t blast out a single email copied to a whole string of different companies, it looks like you haven’t bothered to spend any time researching the company you’re applying to.
  • Keep it short and succinct. Get all the important information up top, including who you are, what your background is and how you will be helpful to your prospective employer. It’s sometimes worth including your availability dates to speed up the process.
  • Ensure your CV and cover letter are one page each. A food & drink agency won’t care that you have Grade 2 in clarinet – but they will care if you’ve worked in a restaurant kitchen or write your own cookery blog. Keep it relevant.
  • Do some research. Know the company’s ethos. Research their clients. Look at past work they’ve done and emphasise what skills you have that may be of use to them.
  • Don’t send the email last thing on a Friday or first thing on a Monday morning. It’s almost guaranteed to fall into that dark cyber-pit of ignored emails. Try Wednesday afternoon when it’s likely their inbox will be much quieter.
  • Triple-check everything before you send it off.
  • If you don’t hear anything after a week or two, give them a call. Be polite – and enquire whether they received your email last week. Sometimes they will have just forgotten or have been too busy to reply. You’ve nothing to lose – one quick phone call can be enough to seal it.

How to brief a food photographer

Investing in a stock of strong images is just that – an investment. Good photography is a key element of any marketing campaign, and by hiring professional snappers you’ll build up a resource that will bring benefits to your business in the months and years to come.

In fact, as shown by the following tweet from Mick Whitworth, editor of Fine Food Digest, not having an image to illustrate your story can be a real disadvantage:

So how do you brief your photographer to ensure you get the best results? Here are my tips:

1. The cheapest option isn’t always the best
Like many things in life, you get what you pay for, and it’s worth paying for good photography. Today’s digital cameras are so good that it may be tempting to do it yourself, and while you may take a perfectly nice picture it is most likely that when viewed by the expert eye of a professional photo editor that your shots won’t make the grade.

2. Find a specialist
A photographer who specialises in taking pictures of food will give you better results than someone who earns a crust from weddings or sports photography. They’ll know what works, they’ll have the skills to make hot food look hot, and if you require access to a food stylist/home economist they’ll know the right people to use.

3. Prioritise
If you have a limited budget, work out what you really need to have pictures of and what would be nice. Setting up shots can be surprisingly time consuming, so draw up a list of the must-have pictures you can’t do without. Start with your core/best-selling products and then if you have time spare at the end of the shoot you can do the less important stuff then.

4. Make sure your brief covers the basics
Give the photographer as much information as you can about the shoot as this will help them prepare. Make sure you cover location, start and finish times, what facilities are available (and what items or props they may need to bring), and if there are any restrictions such as customers in the restaurant/lunch service. It is also a good idea to inform customers on the day that you have a photographer working.

5. Agree terms of use
Some photographers vary their rates depending on the usage required. Specify how you want to use the images – a typical commercial contract would cover PR use (use as editorial content by the media), your website, posters, brochures and any in house marketing. It is a good idea to be as broad ranging as possible. Check if they have any special terms and conditions or restrictions on usage, or if there are time limits or geographical restrictions in place. Finally, as the artistic creator of the piece of work, the photographer is legally entitled to be credited when the photo is used, and this should not be offered in lieu of payment or to try and reduce their fees.

6. Supply context/give examples
One of the most effective ways of creating a brief is to include examples of other images you like. This can take the form of screen grabs from websites. Pinterest allows you to create online mood boards which have the advantage of being easily shared and facilitate collaborative input. Context is also important, so if you are commissioning images for a new website, involve your photographer in the design process and at the very least show them the page designs, current branding or marketing material.

7. Do you need a studio shoot?
If you need product shots for cut outs or to be displayed on a white background then you will almost certainly need a studio shoot. It costs a bit extra but the photographer can often achieve more working with in familiar surroundings with professional lighting. It will also save your graphic designer hours cutting out the images in Photoshop and the results will be better. A personal opinion here: I think restaurant food shot using natural (day) light looks more interesting than identikit studio pictures, and a good photgrapher will be able to communicate some of the character and decor the restaurant.

8. Think about video
It’s often easy to run a film crew alongside a photographer. Some photographers also shoot HD video on SLR cameras and can combine still and motion images as part of the service.

What are your top tips for working with photographers?

8 tips for hosting a successful press trip

For holiday and tourism businesses, hosting journalists is a great way of generating media coverage. Travel features and reviews are almost always written based on first-hand experiences, particularly in the higher quality publications, so inviting a journalist to visit your business is pretty much the only way to secure an in-depth review.

When handled properly, press trips are one of the most effective forms of PR and can yield fantastic results for your business. Here are our top tips on how to host a successful press trip.

Have a clear target

It is important to have a clear idea of the types of publication you would like your business to be featured in. You must think about your target market and where they go to access information. If you run a hotel for example, what papers do your guests order and what publications do they leave behind? Online media is increasingly effective, especially if your business takes bookings through your website.

lambing live

Case study: when BBC Countryfile presenter Katie Knapman visited The Olde House to experience life on a working Cornish farm, she and her family were lucky enough to witness the birth of the first set of quadruplet lambs on the farm in 20 years. Read the article.

Be creative

When approaching journalists your offering needs to be as interesting and different as possible. Consider teaming up with complementary businesses to cover restaurants, accommodation and activities. Spend time thinking about a possible itinerary. What can you offer that is different or unusual? Are there any events or activities that would make their trip particularly special? Journalists constantly get bombarded with requests so it is important to make yours stand out.

Be patient

These things often take months of ground work and a long time to organise. Sometimes a journalist will express an interest but then not come forward with any concrete dates. It is important to follow up any leads as timely as possible and then wait for a response. Be patient, eventually the hard work will pay off.

Be prepared to comp

As budgets get tighter and tighter you are often required to offer complimentary accommodation, travel and on occasion other major expenses. Remember to bear the PR benefits in mind when weighing up the overall costs. Usually the coverage a press trip can generate often far outstrips what it might cost you to cover their major expenses.

Case study: Journalist Alex Wade experienced a Cornish Cycle Tours holiday first hand for his travel feature in The Independent. Read his review.

Be flexible

Journalists are often bound by tight deadlines so it is essential to be flexible with dates and other arrangements where possible. Obviously this isn’t always an option, especially if you are working on an event or an activity bound by time constraints. Similarly, press trips work best when journalists are able to experience a trip as a genuine customer so they may wish to bring a partner or family members with them. You should always try and be as hospitable as possible and accommodate their needs.

Be prepared & plan ahead

Make things as easy as possible for any visiting media. Have a press pack, high resolution images and details on pricing ready for them on arrival. Try and pre-empt any questions they might have and make sure they know they can contact you if they need anything. Similarly, plan any activities they might be doing carefully. Will they have enough time to get from A to B? Do they have transport? Is the chef they would like to interview around on that day?

Time lag

Many journalists and publications are working a long way ahead with features and content often planned months in advance. It is worth bearing in mind that there may be quite a significant time lag between when the press trip takes place and when the write up appears in print. If you are looking for a quick turnaround on a piece, then a focus on online media will be most effective.

You can only control so much

Although you can do everything in your power to ensure any visiting media have a nice time, unfortunately you cannot control what they write about you. Nothing is guaranteed in PR and you must be prepared to accept that this is out of your control.