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Catherine’s story – why telling stories is so important to me

By Published On: 29 May 2021
Blogs | Ballyhoo PR

I’ve loved listening to stories all my life. When I was a child the best birthday and Christmas presents were always the book-shaped parcels – in all honesty they still are today.

English was always my favourite subject at school – any excuse to discover more stories – so it never occurred to me study anything other than English at university. Journalism quickly became one of my favourite modules as I listened to reporters talk about their time working in busy newsrooms and the challenges of covering stories of all descriptions.

My first job after university was as a trainee reporter on a weekly newspaper in Derbyshire. I was lucky enough to work with talented reporters who gave up their time to share their expertise with me and at the same time I studied to become a fully qualified journalist.

I’m under no illusion that of all the journalistic skills I’ve learned the one that impresses people the most is that I know shorthand. The mysterious ‘squiggles’ adorning my notepad spark more admiration in people’s eyes than anything else although I do often find myself reassuring them with a smile that, ‘yes I can read it’.

I spent two years working in Derbyshire before moving to The Rose of the Shires to take up a job with the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph. I spent nearly a decade working there as a reporter, then as political reporter before finally becoming the paper’s assistant news editor.

During my time at the Telegraph, I met fantastic, dedicated journalists who cared passionately about the communities they worked in. I also told literally thousands of stories.

It was my duty to tell people about the latest developments being planned for their communities and to cover court and crime stories that alerted the public to police appeals for help and highlighted the work officers were doing on the ground.

It was with sadness that I helped grieving families share their stories of loved ones who had often been lost too soon and far too regularly enabled desperate parents to raise awareness about fundraising efforts to help children access potentially life-saving treatments.

It was with pleasure that I helped schools to highlight their achievements, told tales of people winning awards and assisted businesses to raise their profile.

It was at the Telegraph that I realised that by far and away my favourite kind of storytelling was when I got to use my skills to tell stories that helped people. There really is nothing more satisfying.

I left the paper in 2012 to have my daughter and a few months later was thrilled to be offered the chance to move into public relations. Working with a local PR firm, I spent nearly three years using the skills I had learned as a journalist to promote the work of an academy trust operating in Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. Working with the trust’s staff and students was an incredibly uplifting experience and left me wanting to explore more opportunities where I could help promote the work of talented people.

So, I was incredibly lucky that my next career move led to me becoming the PR Executive at the Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce. During the next three years I helped to secure local and national press coverage of the activities of Northamptonshire Chamber and its sister Chamber in Milton Keynes. However, my favourite thing about working at the Chamber was editing its inbusiness magazine which showcases its members’ achievements to thousands of subscribers. It was brilliant to help firms raise awareness about their achievements, products and services.

Best of all was working with business owners who were so enthusiastic about appearing in the magazine but were adamant that they had no story to tell. Let me be clear about this – all business owners have a story to tell. The kind of people who are courageous enough to start their own businesses have stories – it’s just they’re often too busy to identify them or too quick to downplay achievements that the rest of us marvel at.

I loved working at the Chamber and the only thing that tempted me to move away was the chance to work for one of the Chamber members I admired the most – Ballyhoo PR’s Emma Speirs.

Emma is one of those quietly courageous business owners. She is creative, passionate about her work and gives her all to her clients. She never employs hard sell tactics – she doesn’t need to. Her work speaks for itself and it’s easy for fellow business owners to see that she has their best interests at heart.

I began working as a Senior PR Executive with Emma and our lovely colleague Katie Macdonald at the beginning of the first lockdown and they immediately made me feel at home. I absolutely love working with our clients on a variety of projects, including blogs, press releases, magazine articles and awards submissions.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, they did when earlier this year we were joined by my former partner in crime, Laura Smith, who worked alongside me as the Milton Keynes Chamber PR Executive for several years.

It’s fair to say the four of us are a tight-knit group. We’re often fondly referred to as the ‘Ballyhoo Crew’ and I can’t think of a better crew to belong to. Just a few days ago we had lots of fun celebrating Ballyhoo PR’s 5th birthday with presents, cake, lots of giggles and, of course, lots of stories.

I’ve no doubt that one of the reasons we get on so well is that we share the same values. We all love what we do and are passionate about getting the best outcomes for our clients.

So, if you need help to tell the world about your business give us a call today on 01536 682800 – we’ll be happy to help you.

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