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A day in a different press office: Make-A-Wish

A day in a different press office: Make-A-Wish

Last week I chose to spend my development day in the press office of UK charity Make-A- Wish® UK, which works to grant the wishes of children and young people who are fighting life-threatening conditions. The wishes they grant for children and young people are a way to bring hope and happiness into their lives during particularly challenging times, and in the 30 years that the charity has been running, they have granted the wishes of over 10,000 children.

Make A Wish staff on the 30th anniversary

Make A Wish staff on the 30th anniversary


The charity has granted a wide range of wishes from helping children to ‘become’ something for a day; a ninja princess, a chef or a fireman to name but a few, to sending the children on the trip of a lifetime, and the charity works hard to enrich the lives of so many families affected by devastating illnesses.

Celebrity ambassadors play a large role for the charity, with big names signed up in support of the work they do including John Terry, Warwick Davis and Jessie J. Many of the wishes for a lot of the children are to meet their favourite celebrities, and the likes of Usain Bolt, Ed Sheeran and Helena Bonham Carter have all played a part in granting special wishes.

You can read some of the children’s stories here.

My day was spent in the press office of the charity, which is manned by Joanne Porter, a relatively new addition to the team and who had made the move over from a career in journalism and working for BBC Children in Need. There’s a great emphasis on digital engagement at Make-A-Wish and press coverage for the charity is largely case study placement across regional press. They also focus on events and special projects across the year including their annual sports dinner, which sees a wealth of top sporting stars attend the dinner in order to fundraise for the charity and celebrate the work they do.

We spent much of the day discussing strategy for journalist outreach, and how best they can maximise the case study stories they have, as well as coming up with new ideas for how else to raise awareness of the charity. We also spent quite a bit of time discussing ways in which the charity could maximise the relationships they have with celebrity ambassadors, in order to generate further press coverage, and we explored the pros and cons of different PR databases such as Gorkana and Celebrity Intelligence.

Sadly, and much like so many other charities, Make-A-Wish is up against the issue of a lack of funding. The work they do wouldn’t be possible without the work of their volunteers and fundraisers so it felt really beneficial to share ideas and strategy between myself and Jo, sharing experiences from two different press offices, and we were in agreement that we both took away valuable learnings from each other.

When I asked Joanne about the most rewarding part of her job, she told me about a little girl called Amelia who had a wish to be a zookeeper for the day. Joanne said: “After her wish was granted, I spoke to Amelia’s mum and she said Amelia didn’t think it was remotely possible that her wish would happen. So when it did, she started thinking that other things might be possible too – including getting better.”

With that kind of feedback from the children they are helping, it’s clear to see the positive impact the charity is having on so many families across the UK who are enduring some very painful times.

You can read Amelia’s story here and if you are keen to find out more about becoming a volunteer you can view the options available here. You can also donate here.



PHA go to the GQ Men of the Year Awards

The annual GQ Men of the Year Awards took place at the Royal Opera House in London this week, with a few shock winners sending the Twittersphere into a spin.  And myself, Laura and Nick were there to witness the aftermath of the action-packed seventeenth awards ceremony.

Our client Timebased have been producing the event since it first began, and luckily for us, were able to offer us three passes to the official after-party, which of course we were not going to turn down!  After initially going into a huge panic about what to wear (cue a lunchtime AND post-work shopping spree) we couldn’t wait to spend the evening sipping on cocktails and rubbing shoulders with the award winners!

Of course, there was work involved as well, and Tuesday mainly consisted of monitoring Twitter for updates, keeping in contact with Richard, Creative Director of Timebased, and reaching out to our press contacts to keep them as up to date as possible.  As soon as the working day was over it was time to go home and get ready, while keeping an eye on social media and feeding live updates, such as the winners and what the celebrities were eating, through to the press.

As always, there were some surprises on the evening.  The response to Tony Blair’s Philanthropist of the Year award, as decided by readers and GQ Editor Dylan Jones, has received a somewhat mixed response (, and a few of the outfit choices certainly raised eyebrows, namely that of GQ’s Woman of the Year Kim Kardashian, whose bespoke Ralph & Russo skirt left little to the imagination.  There was, of course, also James Nesbitt’s ice bucket challenge; which, after he was nominated by Dylan Jones, took place live on stage!

We met at 10pm, just as the awards were drawing to a close, and after an hour of hot-desking in a local bar, over a glass of wine (or two!), and an interview with BBC arranged for 7am the next morning, our work was done and we arrived at the Royal Opera House just after 11pm.  Ushered inside through the side entrance and welcomed with a cucumber mojito, we set about celeb-spotting straight away!  Within minutes we’d spied Jessie J, Pixie Lott and Amber Le Bon, and plucked up the courage to ask David Gandy for a photo – probably mine and Laura’s personal highlight of the evening!

GQ2, pha

After a few hours of dancing to Laura Jean Marsh and having sampled just about every cocktail on the menu, we said our goodbyes to a very happy client, and made our way to the exit, not before stopping for a photo in front of the GQ branded board, and of course picking up one of the coveted goodie bags from the night.

All in all, it was a hugely successful event, attended by some of the biggest and brightest stars in the industry, and one that Timebased are hugely proud to have played a part in.  Here’s to next year and (hopefully) securing another invite!

GQ1, pha


Designer of The Year: Christopher Bailey, CEO of Burberry

Entrepreneur of The Year: Andre Balazs (of Chiltern Firehouse fame)

Chef of The Year – Tom Kerridge

International Man of The Year – Jonah Hill

Comedian of The Year – John Bishop

Philanthropist of The Year – Tony Blair

Actor of The Year – Benedict Cumberbatch

Editor’s Special – Liam Neeson

Writer of The Year – Michael Lewis

TV Personality of The Year – Peter Capaldi

Innovator of The Year – Ewan Venters

Solo Artist of The Year – Pharrell

GQ’s Legend of The Year – Van Morrison

Inspiration of The Year – New Order

Sportsman of The Year – Lewis Hamilton

Special Achievement Award – Paolo Nutini

Leading Man – Colin Firth

Humanitarian of The Year – Ringo Starr

Woman of The Year – Kim Kardashian

Most Stylish Man – Douglas Booth

Icon of The Year – Iggy Pop