Getting Naked With Interview with Bonnie Rakhit The Style Traveller
The face that launched a thousand trips; Bonnie Rakhit is THE Style Traveller. Bonnie is a London-based former fashion editor who has worked for titles including Sunday Times Style and Grazia. Our paths crossed when Bonnie was fashion editor at British ELLE, back when blogging was a brave new world and Instagram was in it’s infancy. It was during that time that gorgeous Bonnie founded the prestigious and inspirational blog The Style Traveller – ‘a fashion editor’s guide to the world’s most stylish places.’ No stranger to creating content, the blog, which is a ‘must visit’ if you are planning a trip, has been voted in the Top 5 Luxury Travel Blogs in the UK. The blog is a ‘Place of Dreams’ full of mouthwatering photography, fabulous scenery, food and fashion complete with essential travel tips and hacks. If that isn’t enough, she’s taken TV in her stride by gracing the This Morning sofa several times this year in her role as travel presenter – is there anything she can’t do? I’m in awe of her commitment, her determination, her entrepreneurial spirit for spotting a gap in the market, and clearly, her travelling wardrobe! It is time to get inspired by the globe-trotting fashionista, Miss Bonnie Rakhit.
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Bonnie Rakhit: Both my parents are Indian but I was born in Manchester, in England, where I grew up. Then moved down to London after uni and I’ve been here ever since.
NakedPRGirl: What did you study? What was your first job?
Bonnie Rakhit: I studied Fashion Design at Manchester Met Uni. My first job was actually in fashion PR.
NakedPRGirl: What was your big break?
Bonnie Rakhit: Before doing PR I had done work experience at several magazines and newspapers. One of which was the Sunday Times Style magazine. I did that work experience while I was still at college. And three years later I bumped into the then fashion editor at the mag and she asked me if I wanted to come back the Sunday Times as the fashion assistant! I said yes of course!
NakedPRGirl: Tell me about your time at ELLE, what was that like? Was it a dream job?
Bonnie Rakhit: Being at Elle Magazine was my ultimate dream job (until now). I’d always wanted to be a Fashion Editor on a big glossy magazine so when I was accepted onto the mag I felt like I’d made it! It was such a fabulous and varied role, but it was super hard work and highly pressured. The amazing things I got to do on the job completely made up for all of the hard work.
NakedPRGirl: Where did the idea come from for TheStyleTraveller?
Bonnie Rakhit: Whilst at Elle I travelled the world all the time, but the only thing you saw in the magazine was the model shoot and none of the trip behind the scenes. So I decided to start a blog which was all about the trip, where we stayed, the trendy bars and restaurants we ate at and where the shop and party in these far flung destinations. and being a fashion editor there were plenty of style and packing tips and street style shots.
NakedPRGirl: How did you come up with the business plan? Who did your branding for you?
Bonnie Rakhit: I pretty much winged it to begin with. I started a google blog at the time and did the logo and branding myself. Things changed pretty quickly once the blog started to become more successful. I moved over to word press and my graphic designer re designed everything for me. That was about a year later.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your USP?
Bonnie Rakhit: The blog is a Fashion Editor’s guide to the world’s most stylish places.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a particular career highlight that stands out?
Bonnie Rakhit: Yes I styled JLo for the Elle cover shoot in LA. And in blogging I met and hung out with Richard Branson at the launch of his Chicago Virgin Hotel. And last year I was given my own private jet, which flew me and boyfriend to Nice for an all expenses paid romantic weekend away.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your personal style? Have you had to look at marketing yourself as a brand?
Bonnie Rakhit: My personal style is pretty, feminine, colourful with a sexy nod. I do market myself as the brand, clients and customers respond and engage much better when they see the face of the brand rather than than a generic logo and an invisible team.
NakedPRGirl: I saw you on This Morning recently, how did that come about? Does TV feel like a natural next step for you?
Bonnie Rakhit: I loved being on This Morning. I met a TV producer years ago on a press trip and out of the blue she said she’d been following me on social and seen the blog and did I fancy doing a slot all about Holidays of the Rich and Famous for them. I loved doing it, it felt very natural to me. I’ve been on the show a couple of times now and would love to go on again.
NakedPRGirl: How do you use social media for your business?
Bonnie Rakhit: Social media is one the most important parts of my business. I promote my blog, TV appearances, talks and shop events on there. As well as all my trips. Many brands also want to purely work with me on my social channels now.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your favourite social media channel? How did you grow so many Instagram followers? Any tips for readers on social media?
Bonnie Rakhit: It has to be instagram! I love it and it works perfectly with my brand which is so visual and all about beautiful imagery. I was very lucky as I started my blog while I was still at Elle so every time I was featured in the mag or online I saw a surge of followers. Likewise I work with so many brands and am now featured in magazines and on TV and when these happen I gain more followers too.
NakedPRGirl: Are your business branding and blogging persona symbiotic? Do you ever feel like they are out of step with each other?
Bonnie Rakhit: They are totally symbiotic, the only time they aren’t is if I’m taking a much deserved social media break. I’ve only done it once around my birthday and I didn’t share anything for a couple of days. It felt great.
NakedPRGirl: How do you manage your blog/social media workload – are you a planner and a scheduler? And do you get techy in the back end?
Bonnie Rakhit: I am very techy and like to keep up with the latest fads and trends. I do have have assistants and people to help me.
NakedPRGirl: How have you seen your industry changing over the last few years? Where do you see it evolving in the future?
Bonnie Rakhit: It’s so much more about Instagram and Youtube these days which is a channel I’m just starting out on now. I see it evolving into video.
NakedPRGirl: How important are London events in your work – for example London Fashion Week? What do you look forward to attending?
Bonnie Rakhit: The more you are seen out and about the more people you network with the better. I love London Fashion Week and being a Mercedes brand ambassador means I get my own car to take me around the shows which they put my logo on. It’s all very exciting!
NakedPRGirl: Are there any London events or venues on your wish list to attend or visit?
Bonnie Rakhit: Without sounding spoilt I do get a lot of invites. What I really love when I’m at home in London is spending time with my friends and family.
NakedPRGirl: What are your favourite places to shoot? And who is behind the camera? Do you have a certain ‘look’ you’re aiming for?
Bonnie Rakhit: I love dramatic backdrops, the more romantic or fabulous the better. I’d like to create a dreamy reality, somewhere people will be swept away. My boyfriend shoots me when we are on trips together, I also regularly collaborate with photographers and other bloggers.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion start ups or bloggers?
Bonnie Rakhit: Do it. Don’t be scared, put yourself out there and see what happens.
NakedPRGirl: Who in the industry inspires you?
Bonnie Rakhit: I love seeing what other bloggers and Instagrammers are doing. I love how epic SamKolders videos and photos are and I love the dreaminess of other Instagrammers like Gypsealust and SincerelyJules.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by?
Bonnie Rakhit: Do what makes you happy.
NakedPRGirl: Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Bonnie Rakhit: Doing the same thing but with my family in tow. And being happy!
How to Market Christmas
Tis the season to be jolly! Welcome to Christmas my friends. If you are new to marketing, it is time to burst your Christmas bubble…(and not just that Santa is fictional)…because in marketing the festive season lasts all yearrrrr round. Yep, by the time it arrives, you will be lucky if the sight of Rudolph doesn’t make you want to reach for the mulled wine immediately. Christmas is a year long (sometimes plus) project. When I worked with a global retailer, they would have their Christmas mock shop up and running in November where creative could work alongside product developers to bring the following years Christmas to life. Sound intense? Well yah!
Let’s run some numbers. Christmas shopping is one of the biggest holidays with shoppers spending over $1 trillion in the United States and shoppers in the UK spending over £2 billion https://wearetop10.com/christmas-statistics/ Typical household spends over £500 extra in December https://edu.bankofengland.co.uk/knowledgebank/how-much-do-we-spend-at-christmas/ plus there’s all the presents and fun activities to consider! So as Kevin in Home Alone would say – arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
So this is big business and getting the right proposition takes time and consideration. So let’s take a look at the steps required for a successful Christmas PR & Marketing campaign.
Right, timelines are not your friend with Christmas. No matter which brand I have worked with over the years, almost every single one encounters problems hitting the deadlines required to max out festive opportunities. Why? Let’s work it back:
December. By the time December hits, everyone is already on the slide into Christmas and is generally continually drunk on mulled Cider. The only thing you want to be launching in this month is end of year sales and/or a Minced Pie into your mouth.
November. Public Launch – Any earlier and people get annoyed so I think about it as the second Halloween is over (or Bonfire Night in the UK), you should be ready to rock and roll.
September / October. If you’re launching in November, you’ll need all your creative signed, sealed and delivered. Any last minute problems should be ironed out and printing should be delivered in October ready to go-live.
July / August. Press launch time. Yes Christmas in July is an industry LOL. Yes we roll our eyes, yes it feels too early, BUT if you’re a journalist working on a long lead magazine or God forbid a Christmas supplement, then this month is golden. It is common to hold a press day or begin your PR activation in July – ho ho ho.
May / June. Oh hang on tho. If you are having a press day in July…you’re gonna need the high res images aren’t you? And some nice campaign shots? Ya know, with Santa holding said product next to a tree. Soooo we need to shoot the campaign in May in order to build in time for repro and design. Merryyyyy Christmas.
March / April. Sooooo we’d better get the marketing campaign decided then? And the creative team briefed in order to hit our blooming deadlines? Simplyyyy having a Wonderful Christmas time.
January / February. You’re gonna need some festive products to shoot. This is when your buying team will be finalising their designs and getting final samples in. SEE this is how it becomes an all year round effort.
So that is quite simply how you will be detoxing from Christmas with your Dry January while simultaneously be talking about the NEXT years Christmas campaign. FML.
Campaigns – things to consider
So that’s timelines, now onto how to capture the imagination with some of my favourite examples.
November 14, 2018: New economic forecast data released by the Advertising Association shows businesses will spend close to six and a half billion pounds on seasonal advertising during the final quarter of this year. The competition to be the number one Christmas advertiser intensifies every year, with spend increasing 5% on the previous record amount in 2017 https://www.adassoc.org.uk/2018/11/christmas-adspend-18/. Big businesses – say the likes of John Lewis and Marks & Spencers, have enormous pressure to deliver at Christmas.
In past years, John Lewis really have delivered adverts with emotional connections which highlight their overall campaign – my favourite was the Man on the Moon a few years ago which connected to their charity link with Age UK.
This year my favourite campaigns have been the underdogs. Marks & Spencer have made more misses than hits in recent years but their link up with Holly Willoughby, arguably the most influential woman in fashion has scored major points for being relatable.
Advertising generally means spending stacks of cash – and although it certainly can end up being very expensive, creativity sometimes wins through. Just look at this alternative-Christmas video which only cost £50 to make and for me is a much bigger win this year.
After this went viral, the filmmaker Phil Beastall has since been commissioned by Good Morning Britain to make their One Million Minutes campaign.
Advertising is all-encompassing so consider this in your marketing mix and find your audience; whether it is TV to radio to print to digital and social media.
This year things have gone extra AF. The rise, and rise of Instagram and social media has put the emphasis fairly and squarely onto the double V – visual and viral. I’ve talked before how businesses including shops, cafes and pubs can use their physical space to become a haven for Instagrammers. Traditionally we would rely on councils or streets to decorate but now, businesses can take matters into their own hands.
My favourite hot spots are London based but there will be plenty more examples – Tweet me when you find them!
Florist Dickinson & Doris have been creating beautiful displays for Peggy Porschen for the last few years and for 2018 we have a pink Winter Wonderland which ticks all the festive boxes. This is Instagram genius – we literally have pink and sparkly backdrop of the cafe on the pretty cobbled streets of Belgravia serving up cute Christmas cupcakes and pastel coloured treats. A must visit – just expect to queue on a nice day.
Churchill Arms – if there was an award for a pub which has gone viral – it would be the Churchill Arms because as soon as they installed their Christmas tree decorations, it made national news. The Churchill Arms famously spend £25,000 a year on decorating the pub with flowers and over Christmas their budget is £5,000 on Christmas decorations. That money provides 90 Christmas trees, almost 12,000 lights https://secretldn.com/churchill-arms-flower-pub/. The ROI on just one of the national news pieces would have paid for itself in terms of press coverage and ensures it is consistently top of the must-visit pub lists for tourists and Londoners alike.
Annabel’s has been killing it in Mayfair this year with their OTT floor to ceiling, purse busting decorations but the ROI on Instagram is OOC.
The key is to make it impactful enough and ensuring you get the ROI. You can never be 100% sure of the results but each year you can test new decorations through fresh campaigns and track your mentions and engagement.
Creating a Christmas Offering or Experience
Nothing says Christmas without yearning for a special mulled wine or a stacked hot chocolate with whipped cream inside a festive, cosy igloo on the Thames. Well this has happened! Coppa Club are booked up solid for the Christmas period with their igloos which overlook Tower Bridge. This is the perfect Christmassy experience where getting that shot inside the igloo looking super smug is reserved for the very lucky or the very early bookers.
Dalloway Terrace have also created #WinteratDalloway with a cosy festive setting by Wild At Heart and Christmas cocktails including the Belsazar Vermouth Winter Warmers.
Ice Bars and skating rinks have also been on the rise, popping up in iconic places like Somerset House, the National History Museum and Winter Wonderland. Speaking of Winter Wonderland, it has been growing and growing since it opened in 2007. It now spans a huge area with bars, rides and activities and attracts over 2.5 million visitors each year.
Creating Christmas Products
Christmas products have a SHORT SHELF LIFE so their reason for being needs to absolutely clear. For Christmas shopping guides, festive themed outfits or cosy wintery pieces are absolutely crucial. This is a crowded market though, so it needs to be cuter, funnier, more colourful and more festive than the rest to stand out. Christmas jumpers have had a particular resurgence in recent years, partly due to Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day and also to embrace the festive period, creating a fun party uniform amongst family, friends and colleagues.
If you work in the food or drinks industry, then ding dong merrily on high. Get a Christmas menu pronto with festive cocktails and introduce special offers for parties.
PR Tips for Christmas
Be Ready – Get your high res images and lifestyle shots by July. Think about what the press want for gift guides and make sure you have cut outs on plain backgrounds.
Press Release ready – If you don’t have a product you can photograph prior to installation (for example – Churchill Arms festive pub), make sure you have confirmed your plans and signed off the press release with quotes which you can send out in July. If you have images from previous years, you can use those to give everyone a taster and get everyone excited by adding to your blog if you have one on the lead up to the event.
Get to know the press – Find out the specific contact or commissioned journalists on key titles so you can be super targeted.
Use social media – Many journalists will use the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter to search for Christmas Gift Guide suggestions so get yourself a Twitter account. Many media databases will send out alerts if you pay to join them too – like Gorkana and Diary Directory.
Hold an event – Brands like Jo Malone are the gold standard in holding luxury events in beautiful settings, and Christmas is no exception with their stunning dinners to launch the new season with a signature scent or their Christmas Wreath. Depending on your budget, you can hold a simple press day in July, or even join one which will feature many brands, or you can hold a smaller, more personal breakfast, lunch or dinner. An event is always an extra cost and not always what I call a basic requirement, however, the social reach around the brand and potential to reach Christmas Gift Guide decision makers, should make it all worth it if you do it right!
How to Market Black Friday
Black Friday, especially for the UK market, can conjure up unsavoury images of apocalyptic proportions where shoppers mercilessly stampede over each other for a £50 TV in Tesco. You’ll have seen the footage of people knock…
100 Years – First World War Centenary Events
It has been 100 years since the end of the First World War and it is important that we take time out to reflect and remember all of the fallen. It is often a difficult task to market a historical event and I’d like to do my little bit to share the ways you can join in to commemorate this day. You can find local events which you can search via postcode on the Government’s website Armistice 2018 A Nation’s Thank You https://armistice100.org.uk/events/
You can buy the Poppy Brooch pictured via the Royal Legion here.
1918 PARLIAMENT: A SNAPSHOT IN TIME EVENING
On 26 October the Houses of Parliament are holding a special Museums at Night evening at the Houses of Parliament to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. ‘A Snapshot in Time’ enables you to experience a certain day in 1918, 19 November. Eight days after the Armistice, King George V visits Westminster to address both Houses of Parliament. Having served on the Western Front, Winston Churchill is back in government as Minister of Munitions.
Danny Boyle beach tribute to the Fallen
In a beautiful and poignant gesture, Danny Boyle has now confirmed over 20 beaches which will take part in the Pages of the Sea Project on 11 November.
Faces of the soldiers who made a one-way journey to fight in the First World War will be drawn into the sand on beaches by communities around Britain in a “tremulous thank you. The drawings will be made at low tide and washed away by the waves making this a very visual story.
Read more – https://www.1418now.org.uk
— BBC Teach (@BBC_Teach) October 19, 2018
Carol Ann Duffy’s poem THE WOUND IN TIME has been released today. Danny Boyle invites you to join us on 11 November to mark 100 years since Armistice & the end of #WW1. #PagesOfTheSea You can read the poem online here: https://t.co/x77i3w2Gw1 pic.twitter.com/Zv7Rmig3N8
— 14-18 NOW (@1418NOW) October 22, 2018
Benjamin Britten’s work is performed by 300 musicians and singers from Germany and the UK, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the NDR Radiophilharmonie, from Hanover. This Anglo-German ensemble will take place on Nov 10 at Liverpool Cathedral.
WW1 COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS
Our National Treasure, Royal Mail have issued a special set of stamps in the last four years with 6 dropping each year to total 30 in the end. They include moving words of poetry and paintings of poppies:
View this post on Instagram
BEYOND THE DEEPENING SHADOW: THE TOWER REMEMBERS
TOWER OF LONDON
I am thrilled to have tickets to The Tower of London to see this stunning The Tower Remembers Beyond the Deepening Shadow installation which opens from 4 November – 11 November 2018. This epic light and sound display at this iconic location will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. It takes place at the end of each day and tickets are required.
will begin with a procession led by the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London. Emerging from the fortress, the Yeoman Warders – themselves all distinguished former servicemen and women – will ceremonially light the first flame.
— The Tower of London (@TowerOfLondon) October 11, 2018
This November, the Tower of London will join the nation in commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War. #TowerRemembers 4.11.18 – 11.11.18 https://t.co/qD7L1rXL5X pic.twitter.com/tGKcIPZYYb
— The Tower of London (@TowerOfLondon) September 20, 2018
Journey’s End film screening
What better venue to watch Journey’s End than the National Army Museum in Chelsea, especially when it is followed up with a question and answer session with Guy de Beaujeu, the film’s producer.
ARMISTICE CENTENARY: FAURÉ REQUIEM
On 6 November 2018 at Westminster Abbey in London, the Abbey Choir and chamber ensemble CHROMA will perform Fauré’s sublime Requiem and music by Vaughan Williams, Parry and Ireland which was written about the Great War. Admission is £12 – £45
We’ll be joined by chamber group @chroma_ensemble for our forthcoming #Armistice100 concert on Tuesday 6th November here at @wabbey: join us to hear Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, works by Parry, Ireland & John Tavener, & Fauré’s beautiful Requiem: https://t.co/BOvVClsufc pic.twitter.com/hXjzskqL7n
— Choir of Westminster Abbey (@WAbbeyChoir) October 24, 2018
ARMISTICE DAY – 100 YEARS ON
On 11 November 2018 Cadogan Hall on Sloane Terrace in London will mark the centenary for the end of the First World War with a special concert. Tickets start at £15 to observe the Royal Choral Society and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of music and poetry that signifies ‘Remembrance’ for this national day of commemoration.
LIVES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR AT IWM LONDON
Running this year until 31 December 2018, Lives of the First World War at IWM London (part of Imperial War Museums) is a major digital project for the First World War Centenary which will build a permanent digital memorial to more than 8 million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth and saved their stories for future generations.
THE WEEPING WINDOW AT IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
The most Instagram friendly display has to be the stunning poppy display at the Imperial War Museum. Designed by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, ceramic poppies cascade down the building.
View this post on Instagram
Getting Naked With Interview with Visit Parliament’s Ian Lacey
I met Ian via good old Instagram when I posted a picture at one of my favourite spots in front of the Houses of Parliament. If you look closely, a cyclist is practising some kind of acrobatics by walking along the top of the barrier onto the Thames, which Ian commented, there are many ways to visit Parliament but this way was not encouraged! Since then, I’ve been on a fabulous tour of Parliament also also sent a huge group of Time Out London Tastemaker buddies to do the same. As an fan of history and all things London, I was intrigued how Ian and his team go about marketing this iconic location. Ian Lacey has the very enviable and delightful job of working at the Houses of Parliament. As Marketing & Travel Trade Manager for Visitor Services he has the key role of attracting both domestic and international visitors to these glorious historical buildings in Westminster.
Ian is the main contact for all travel trade, marketing, press and broadcasting enquiries about the Houses of Parliament and for their award-winning tours which take place through both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The newly launched ‘Afternoon Tea in the Pugin Room’ has proved itself to be a sure fire winner this summer.
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Ian Lacey of Visit Parliament: I was born and raised in North London. When my wife Sarah and I got together, we spent a long time in Twickenham and we are now just a few miles down the road in Sunbury-on-Thames. I’m still living north of the river though!
NakedPRGirl: What did you study? What was your first job?
Ian Lacey: I left school at 18 and then spent the first part of career working in the financial services sector. Almost 12 years ago I undertook a big change in career direction to follow my love of travel and tourism. I went to college for the first time and completed a Masters in Tourism Marketing at the University of Surrey. I am still really proud of being awarded a distinction for my degree, and for my dissertation which focused on accessible travel.
NakedPRGirl: What is your background and how does your previous experience support you in your role?
Ian Lacey: I had a few tourism-related roles being offered my current position at the Houses of Parliament. I was the UK agent for a tailor made tour company based in New Zealand (spending three months getting to know that beautiful country) and worked for the National Trust at Osterley Park in West London (go visit – it’s a beautiful country house and estate in the middle of the suburbs). I was a Gamesmaker at the rowing and canoeing events at London 2012 and, just before joining Parliament, was an account manager for a marketing and PR agency specialising in the hospitality sector. I absorbed so much from all these experiences, and met a lot of people, so was able to hit the ground running when I started at Westminster six years ago.
NakedPRGirl: Can you describe a typical working day for us?
Ian Lacey:I know it’s a cliché but no two days are the same. My job is primarily externally-focused – finding new and innovative ways to encourage tourists, group travel organisers and tour operators to book visits to Parliament. I also work with journalists, bloggers and other influencers. In the summer, thanks to your introductions Claire, we arranged for a group of 25 Time Out Tastemakers to come on one of our guided tours. It was great to meet them and then observe the different ways they shared their experience of the tour afterwards. I go to travel shows (we are exhibiting at World Travel Market at ExCeL 5-7 November), seminars, conferences, awards ceremonies (when we’re nominated) and other travel industry events. There are inevitably plenty of internal meetings and I line-manage the other members of my team. We are based in an office just off Whitehall so some weeks I hardly visit the Palace of Westminster. It’s still a thrill when I do go over there and walk through Westminster Hall, or stand on the floor of the House of Commons. I would love to be at floor level in the Commons Chamber during a particularly noisy and dramatic debate, but to do this I would either have be elected as a Member of Parliament or change jobs and join the doorkeeper team!
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a specific morning routine? Any tips or hacks you would like to share?
Ian Lacey: I always walk to Parliament from Waterloo in the morning. As I cross Westminster Bridge, I have the most spectacular view of ‘the office’. I’ve watched the scaffolding move along the roof line of the building and up the Elizabeth Tower. I am really looking forward to the restored Big Ben being revealed in a few years’ time. On arrival it’s coffee and clearing emails before the meetings begin.
NakedPRGirl: What do you love most about that incredible building? Which is your favourite room or space?
Ian Lacey: On our visitor tour route, my favourite room is Prince’s Chamber. This is a warm and intimate lobby between Royal Gallery and the Lords Chamber. The walls are lined with paintings of the Tudors and Stuarts, and the room is dominated by John Gibson’s statue of Queen Victoria. I also love the sheer scale of Westminster Hall which dates from 1097. Anyone who’s anyone in English history has probably walked through this space at some point. The modern atrium of Portcullis House is lovely. It goes from being very chilled first thing in the morning to extremely buzzy around lunchtime on days when Parliament is in session. We take part in Open House London weekend every September and Portcullis House is always a popular part of this.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a particular highlight that stands out since you started at Parliament?
Ian Lacey: A particular highlight for me was the ‘Visit Parliament’ branding project that we completed a couple of years ago. It was really strong visually and reflected the stunning interiors of the building. To kick-start the accompanying PR campaign we built a replica House of Commons green bench and set out to place it in some well-known locations. I was able to secure agreement for the bench to go pitch-side at Wembley Stadium and on the south steps in front of the Royal Albert Hall. That was a memorable day! We still take the replica bench to travel shows and have placed it in railway stations, airports and hotel lobbies. We are always open to new ideas from potential hosts. People love to have their photos taken on the bench, especially as only MPs are allowed to sit on the real benches.
NakedPRGirl: We are shortly to be celebrating 100 years since the end of the First World War – how will Parliament be celebrating?
Ian Lacey: Currently I am working on our event taking place on 26 October which is part of the Museums at Night weekend. ‘A Snapshot in Time’ enables visitors to experience a certain day in November 1918. Throughout the evening, actors playing the roles of King George V, Winston Churchill, Nancy Astor and a returning soldier will share their experiences about the conflict, and its impact on them and their loved ones. Our Visitor Engagement Assistants then take the characters’ stories forward and explain what happened to each of them after 1918. On 31 October the combined UK Parliament and German Bundestag choirs will commemorate the centenary with a special concert in Westminster Hall featuring Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. The choirs will be accompanied by Southbank Sinfonia and conducted by Simon Over.
NakedPRGirl: Do you ever do anything in Parliament to celebrate Bonfire Night? Do you have any insider knowledge about that event that we might not already know?
Ian Lacey: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot is a bit of an odd one for us to celebrate, especially in the current security climate. It relates back to a scheme to blow up the King and Parliament during the State Opening ceremony. Guy Fawkes was tried and found guilty of treason in Westminster Hall and met a rather grisly end. Also, some years ago the State Opening was moved from November to May so the dates don’t even coincide with the parliamentary calendar anymore. Even so, Yeomen of the Guard still go down and inspect the vaults on the night before every State Opening.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your favourite social media channel? Do you have any social media tips?
Ian Lacey: I enjoy Twitter and co-manage our @visitparliament account. I would recommend Twitter to any aspiring copywriter as the small character limit really sharpens your ability to tell a story or convey a message in just a few words. I’m not an active Instagrammer but I love viewing other people’s creative images and enjoy the positive vibe. I use LinkedIn a lot for work as it’s good for keeping up to date with industry trends and seeing how my contacts are doing.
NakedPRGirl: How do you manage your social media workload – are you and your team planners and schedulers?
Ian Lacey: We try to keep the @visitparliament Twitter account fairly informal in tone. We have a plan which sets out the tours, events, exhibitions and other ways to visit that we need to be publishing tweets about at any given time. We also have a schedule of other topics such as significant anniversaries and ‘on this day in history’ stories which relate to Parliament. Tweets featuring The Queen always seems to receive particularly strong engagement levels. We answer any questions as quickly as possible and proactively engage with people who are tweeting about wanting to visit Westminster or sharing their experiences. We publish in real time and avoid scheduling so we can check that our content is appropriate given what’s going on the wider world.
NakedPRGirl: How do you use social media to promote the Houses of Parliament particularly on an international level?
Ian Lacey: We can reach a much bigger and broader audience through working with the @UKParliament social media team as they manage the full range of channels; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Most of our content is in English but we have developed ‘welcome’ videos in a number of other languages too. The US is a key tourism market for us so publishing visiting-related posts later in our day means we hit American audiences at the right time. We have had some success lately with Facebook Events. It’s all about getting the messages out to the channels where people will see them, not expecting them to go looking for our content.
NakedPRGirl: Have you introduced a new event or special day which has gone down well with visitors?
Ian Lacey: I mentioned our involvement with Museums at Night earlier. This has given us the opportunity to experiment with ‘Lates’ in order to attract new and more diverse audiences. Two years ago our ‘Rights and Rebels’ evening focused on the protestors and activists who have challenged the law and therefore Parliament. Three excellent folk musicians performed rebel songs under the magnificent hammerbeam roof in Westminster Hall. Last year’s ‘Pride at Night’ was LGBT-themed to mark 50 years since the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967. We developed an LGBT history tour (which we still run occasionally) and our archivists displayed a copy of the 1533 Buggery Act which proved to be quite a draw. We are fortunate to have so much fantastic material to work with!
NakedPRGirl: How has access to the Houses of Parliament changed over the last few years?
Ian Lacey: We welcome around one million visitors to Parliament each year. Yet, many people still don’t think they can visit. Visitors can come and watch the debates and committees, or take one of the many tours. We now offer a much broader range of tours – tour guide led, self-guided audio, family-specific and themed – and we are open to visitors even when Parliament is not in session. We also work hard on our accessibility, which can be a challenge in a mainly Victorian building. We run tactile tours for people who are blind and partially sighted and sign language tours for the hard of hearing.
NakedPRGirl: Where do you see it evolving in the future?
Ian Lacey: If all goes according to plan, the Palace of Westminster will close for restoration and renewal in 2025 for around eight years. Up until then we will be encouraging people to visit or re-visit while they still have the chance, by continuing to extend the range of tours, events and exhibitions we offer.
NakedPRGirl: Which political figure, past or present, inspires you?
Ian Lacey: Working for Parliament means that publicly I have to be politically neutral so I will side-step this question and answer a slightly different one. My inspirations tend to be people who go out and discover the world; polar explorers like Shackleton and Scott, writers like Eric Newby (check out ‘A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush’) and TV travellers like Simon Reeve. I’m really looking forward to seeing Simon Reeve’s one man show at Richmond in early November.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by?
Ian Lacey: Probably my mantra is not to put off doing the things we really want to do, particularly travelling to new places and revisiting old favourites. My travels to over 40 countries are some of my most treasured memories and I want to keep adding to the list. I am not going to be one of those people who looks back on their life and wished they had done this or that.
NakedPRGirl: Where would you like to be in ten years’ time?
Ian Lacey: So much has happened over the past ten years, most of which I couldn’t have even dreamed of including working at Parliament. So it’s really hard to look so far forward. As the Palace of Westminster is likely to be closed for restoration by then, I know I won’t be doing the same job. A few years ago I qualified as a tour guide at Parliament and really enjoy talking and writing about history and travel so maybe I will be doing something along those lines.
You can find out more about visiting the Houses of Parliament at www.parliament.uk/visit and can contact Ian at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ilacey/
View this post on Instagram
Getting Naked With Interview with Bonnie Rakhit The Style Traveller The face that launched a thousand trips; Bonnie Rakhit is THE Style Traveller. Bonnie is a London-based former fashion editor…Read more
How to Market Christmas Tis the season to be jolly! Welcome to Christmas my friends. If you are new to marketing, it is time to burst your Christmas bubble…(and not…Read more
How to Market Black Friday Black Friday, especially for the UK market, can conjure up unsavoury images of apocalyptic proportions where shoppers mercilessly stampede over each other for a £50…Read more
100 Years - First World War Centenary Events It has been 100 years since the end of the First World War and it is important that we take time out…Read more
Getting Naked With Interview with Visit Parliament’s Ian Lacey I met Ian via good old Instagram when I posted a picture at one of my favourite spots in front of…Read more
How to Market Halloween - Retail, Digital and Social Media Tips Double, double toil and trouble;. Fire burn and cash tills bubble. When did Halloween become such a marketing winner?…Read more
GETTING NAKED WITH TIME OUT LONDON TASTEMAKERS In 2015 Time Out London launched their Tastemaker community which aimed to add 200 London reviewers to their books and luckily I was…Read more
Getting Naked With Paula Fry aka CityFashGal I first met Paula Fry through her digital persona, @CityFashGal and thought she was hilariously funny. Fast forward six months and I was…Read more
Find out how I can help you with your marketing strategy...Read more
Find out how I can help with your PR goals and execution...Read more
Find out how to build & share the most engaging content...Read more
Find out how to analyse, plan & schedule your social media...Read more
“Claire was my PR and Marketing Manager for four years at Donna Ida so we worked closely together to build a marketing strategy for the Ultimate Denim Destination. Claire’s PR experience led to an increase in press coverage 30% year-on-year with a focus on luxury titles and targeting key editors"Read The Full Testimonial
Claire was very well liked by the press and they felt very happy and comfortable with her, so much so that they were just as happy going to Claire as they were coming to me. We developed a press strategy of one-to-one appointments and special evening press dinners to encourage exclusivity with exceptional results.
She worked closely with our in-house creative team to build the brand and my personal profile within the fashion and business sectors, managing photo shoots and Look Books. Claire is loyal, entrepreneurial and strategic so when presented with a challenge she sees it as an opportunity.
DONNA IDA THORNTON, www.donnaida.com