From the King’s Coronation and Waterloo Road to helping Wizzard with their Christmas Number 1 bid – here are our 2023 highlights


As former reporters we know how important it is to jump on a national news story while everyone is still talking about it. We always advise our clients to make their voices heard and join in the discussion when the news directly appeals to them. Throughout 2023 we have seen our clients talk about everything from Waterloo Road to joining the traditional run for the Christmas Number 1 spot.

They have celebrated the coronation of King Charles III and dressed up, picked up a book or done something a little bit crazy to join in with a national campaign or week.

This is what is known in the industry as newsjacking and as the end of the year fast approaches, we thought now would be the perfect time to have a look back at 2023.

Sarah-Louise at Honey Hope Farm getting the goats ready for the Coronation

Back in January, Waterloo Road fans were eager to see their favourite show return to their screens after an eight-year hiatus. The eighth season included a character called Kelly-Jo Rafferty who was diagnosed with ADHD – news that was welcomed by Chrissa Wadlow, of Sunshine Support. Chrissa said it was “refreshing” to see a female neurodivergent character.

This was the same month that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced plans for young people to study maths until the age of 18. Many of our clients gave their thoughts on this one, including Bev Wakefield, of Vibrant Accountancy; Paul Logan, headteacher of Derby Grammar School; and Adam Holland, managing director of Progressive Sports in the East Midlands.

Chat GPT has been a hot topic throughout the year as debate has rumbled on over whether it could be of use to businesses and schools. In February, leadership expert Kul Mahay shared his thoughts on it, saying that it is vital that students master the art of being able to communicate effectively.

Events were held across the country for the coronation of King Charles III and Derby was no exception. Part of this was a UK-wide volunteering initiative and it was back in March that Queen’s Award-winning Cosy, announced that it would be closing during the week commencing May 8 with its staff volunteering their services to help local schools as part of The Big Help Out.

Annie’s Burger Shack created a gourmet burger that was fit for a King. The feast included Coronation chicken – representing his mother, the Queen – the King’s own newly created Coronation quiche and home-baked Scottish shortbread containing Laphroaig whisky-soaked pomegranate seeds and sweet citrus peel garnish and baked in the shape of a crown.

Famous faces have also made headlines locally, such as Kaleb Cooper from Clarkson’s Farm who was the guest of honour at the Derbyshire County Show in June.

BBC East Midlands Today at the county show

It was also Pride month and leading HR and employment firm Precept urged businesses to think about how they could be more accepting after a survey revealed that almost a fifth of LGBTQ+ people felt stressed about their workplace.

The British media love a weather story and workplace technology company Scenariio maximised on this back in July after a very hot June. They talked about the importance of staff comfort during heatwaves, as it became a top priority for employers.

In August, MacMartin spoke out in support of the opinion-dividing ‘Maaate’ campaign, launched by London mayor Sadiq Khan, aimed at tackling violence against women. And August was a busy time for secondary schools as pupils collected their long-awaited GCSE and A-Level results. We were on hand at all of our schools to find out how they had done – and compared the results with the rest of the country.

In September, The Great British Bake Off returned to our screens and pupils from Royal School for the Deaf Derby recorded a special message for deaf contestant Tasha. It was the first time that the show had featured a deaf contestant and the video the pupils recorded was something very special.

In October we started working with Nelson’s Distillery and School who had made a very special tipple for this year’s festive season in collaboration with legendary rocker Roy Wood. As part of our work, we were able to capitalise on the race for Christmas number 1 – always a focus for the national press. It means we secured coverage in OK! Magazine, The Sun, Daily Telegraph and BBC Radio Derby.

In November the nation stops for Remembrance Sunday and we invited BBC East Midlands Today to a very inclusive service at Royal School for the Deaf Derby.

Law firm Smith Partnership revealed people were seeking legal advice over wills following TV programmes such as The Inheritance and Inheritance Wars: Who Gets The Money? The rise in house prices, poorly written and DIY wills and the changing nature of the modern family have all contributed to a rise in contested will cases.

Derbyshire hit the headlines when our old friends at Treetops Hospice, in Risley, were given a brand-new counselling and therapy centre as part of a special Children in Need DIY SOS Big Build programme. Businesses from across the county showed their support and that included smart building and IT infrastructure firm Scenariio which spent two days on site installing circadian LED lighting, which changes colour subtly through the day to mimic natural daylight, alongside a control system to ensure its smooth operation.

Of course, Children in Need is a popular event at all the schools we work with – yet another great reason to put them in the spotlight.

As the Christmas break fast approaches, we look forward to seeing what the news in 2024 will bring us. Merry Christmas from everyone here at Penguin PR and Happy New Year

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