Speaking – Talking food and drink with Monkhouse PR

This year has certainly started with a bang, with far more than just writing. After meeting Monkhouse PR at food founders’ festival Bread & Butter, its own founder Clare Downes asked me if I’d come and speak at a special mini conference they put on for all their clients.

The chance to chat about stories, journalism and food for a day? Of course I said yes.

Monkhouse are food and drink PR specialists with a client list that features foods from cheese to ice-cream – always interesting for someone like me. So on a sunny day we all congregated in Shropshire at Monkhouse’s own conference centre to get our heads together and chat about all things food-related.

I wasn’t the only speaker which is always good for me. One of the great things about attending events like this is learning from the other people who are there to share their knowledge. First up was branding expert Andy Wheatley from Gill Fox Harris to talk to the businesses, many of them smaller and on the start of their journeys, about managing growth.

Then there was me with my food journalist and blogger hat on, talking about how I get stories, what I look for, and the role PR plays in it.

Some people think that PR and journalism is all about ‘us and them’ and a constant struggle against each other, but I’m more of the school of thought that the better you understand what each other are trying to achieve, the more you can work towards a mutually beneficial relationship without all the stress that constant aggravation can bring.

To round off our trio of speakers, we were joined by Laurra Davis from Brilliant Social Media giving us all the skinny on the role social media can play in brand communication.

It’s always amazing how quickly time flies at events like this. Before we knew it, we’d been on a journey of discussion covering branding, storytelling and social media; successes and failures; start-ups and big corporates and much more.

Lucky for us, lunch was laid on – an array of products from all of the people who had attended, from sausages and cold meats to cheese, chutneys and some ice-cream to round off the day. I’m told the day was a success and well-received by everyone there which, of course, is always the aim.

While I’m always going to prefer writing to standing up and speaking (especially with all the weird hand gestures I keep doing that are always caught on camera), there’s something nice about being able to talk to people about what journalists do and to try to help them to develop better working relationships.

Like I say, the more we understand what the others in our ‘ecosystem’ of producer, PR and press are trying to, the easier it is for all of us to get on with our jobs and tell some stories.