A Right Royal Stamp of Approval
2022 marks Grainger PR’s 15th anniversary.
Although I have yet to bake the cake or host the party, it’s a milestone that I know I have to mark.
I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved but, most of all, I’m humbled by the range of organisations, charities and events I’ve had the opportunity to promote.
As I look forward to that glass of fizz and slice of cake, I’ve been looking back over the lessons I’ve learnt, the lasting memories and the mistakes (yes, there’s been one or two).
Immediately prior to setting up my own business, I worked as Senior Press Officer at the University of St Andrews, the university of choice for Prince William. A regular sight on the streets of St Andrews and the catalyst for a never-ending barrage of press and media inquiries over his four-year term (not forgetting the crazy year between him applying and arriving!), I was accustomed to dealing with St James’s Palace and au fait with various royal protocols. The man himself even handed in a bottle of champagne to say thank you before he left, a cork I have yet to pop! (if only I had an anniversary coming up…. ?)
What I didn’t expect in the very early days of Grainger PR was another Royal project.
Back in 2008, I was asked to launch and manage a PR campaign to save the Glamis Post Office, which was earmarked for closure.
Working with Glamis and Area Community Council and Strathmore Estates, I was tasked with revving up a media storm as the (late) Queen Mother’s niece, Mary, Dowager Countess of Strathmore, led a protest to save the last shop and post office in Glamis, Angus.
Princess Margaret’s birth in 1930 was registered at the Post Office, which was regularly used by the Royal Family when they stayed in nearby Glamis Castle. The Queen Mum also bought her sweets there as a child.
Handling her interviews beautifully, the Countess said the Queen Mother, who died in 2002, would have been ‘horrified’ at its closure, adding that she would have been ‘turning in her grave’ if she knew it was due to shut its doors. A quote like no other, delivered in a tone I can still hear as I reminisce!
My main memory from that day was turning up for the photocall, a sight not dissimilar from my University of St Andrews days, with almost every press and media outlet and agency photographer you could imagine lined up to photograph and interview the Countess. However, this time, it was just me handling it all!
Buying out practically every paper in the shop the next morning (the days before it all went online), the resulting coverage was sensational, with splashes in every national newspaper, as well as TV and radio news across the country.
What’s more, our PR worked, the Post Office was saved and remains open to this day. I even received a lovely letter of thanks for my role in the campaign.
Lesson? – never underestimate the role of publicity in making your point. (Oh, and a royal helps!!)