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Strictly speaking…our dancing queen Kerry rolls back the year as she takes on a charity challenge


I HAVEN’T always wanted to work in PR. Far from it, writes Kerry Ganly.

Aged 14, I had hopes of moving to London and being a dancer. I had danced – ballroom, Latin and to the Macarena in my bedroom – since I was little and was SURE that Take That would see my moves and immediately ask me to be a backing dancer on their latest tour.

I would regularly perform for family and friends, and they would give me and my sister a score out of 10. I lived for Wednesday evenings when I would join other members of the Jean Tomlinson School of Dance, and we would don our sparkly shoes and glide around the floor of the local church hall.

When I realised, though, that I wouldn’t quite make it to the Top Of The Pops studio as a performer, I quit dancing turned my attention to sports journalism and to making a career out of that.

And although I briefly resumed lessons when my now-father-in-law wanted to learn how to jive for his retirement do, dancing in my late teens tended to be something that I did after a few bottles of Smirnoff Ice on the dancefloor in Zanzibar.

Members of the Jean Tomlinson School of Dance during one of its award presentations. Spot our Kerry in the photo!

READ MORE: Why PR is written to sound just like the news

After having my first child Sam, who is almost 16, I struggled to lose the post-baby weight. Although I loved being a mum, I missed doing something for ‘me’.

My husband Nick has always been thoughtful and his gift to me the Christmas after Sam was born was membership to our local gym. My mother-in-law thought that I would have preferred something else but, in all honesty, it was the best present he could have bought for me.

He realised that I needed some time to myself, and this was the perfect.

I’ve always enjoyed exercise and I found that going to the gym was great not only for my physical health, but for my mental health too. I loved tuning out to cheesy pop on my iPod shuffle and pounding the treadmill.

Kerry and her Sh’bam buddies – including instructor Kathy Smith-Summers (far right) – dress up for a Sh’bam Halloween special.

But I REALLY started to get the ‘gym bug’ when Ripley Leisure Centre unveiled its latest class – Sh’bam; a dance-based workout created by experts at Les Mills.

An insanely addictive cardio workout where you’re actively encouraged to sing along, I was hooked on Sh’bam and would attend up to four classes a week.

It wasn’t, though, just the workout I was enjoying. It was the company of the brilliant people who were also loving Sh’bam – and they are quite a mixed bunch!

Over time these people would become friends and we would go through life-changing events together; there have been marriages, divorces and new babies.

Some of us have changed career and sought advice from the group. Our Sh’bam sessions have become a ‘safe space’ to share our thoughts but, best of all, let our hair down and have fun. We’ve shimmied, twirled and leaped through songs by Adele, Jason Derulo and Little Mix and it’s blinkin’ marvellous.

This Saturday will see us all gather in the sports hall at Ripley Leisure Centre for a three-hour Sh’bam-a-thon. It’s being phased out in place of a new dance programme that will launch in the new year.

Kerry (fourth from the left on the back row) shows off one of her dancing awards with fellow members of the Jean Tomlinson School of Dancing.

It will be a time to boogie with friends, reminisce over routines and raise money for two great charities: Macmillan and Mind.

We’ve created a community – and any good PR expert will tell you that getting involved in a community project can increase brand awareness with prospective customers – and it’s a fabulous thing to do.

PR lessons can also be learned from dance, too. Including:

  1. Master the art of timing: Timing is essential in dance. It’s also key in PR; knowing exactly when to send your story out to the media – and the type of content to post on your social media channels. With Christmas just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about planning for the festive season. If you need a few tips, check out our Lucy’s recent blog.
  2. Tell a compelling story: If you’ve ever been moved by a powerful piece of ballet or been wowed by a tango then you’ll know that dance has the ability to tell a story. A press release or media story should be more than just a list of facts about a company or an event; it should unfold like a well-choreographed performance, engaging readers on an emotional level. 
  3. Coordination and collaboration: Like a well-rehearsed boy band routine, working together can achieve award-winning results. Successful PR campaigns require collaboration across all departments and a shared vision. Check out the three-month campaign we worked on with the Moorwood Hotel Collection here as they prepared for the opening of their new restaurant.

Right, I’m off to dust down my sparkly shoes and get some practice in. If you would like to donate to MIND – via my friend Jake’s collective Just Giving account, click here or to donate to Macmillan Cancer Support, click this link here.

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