Friday, February 28, 2014

Will Write for Food (or, Keeping a Hand In)

Once upon a time, or so it seems, (only a decade ago, really) I was a wedding coordinator. Big A's flatmate's girlfriend ran the business, and when her partner had a high-risk pregnancy she needed someone to fill in. She offered me a chance to earn quite decent extra money working on a Saturday or Sunday about three times a month. I decided to give it a shot, and voila, my weekend career took off.

With my day job in marketing/PR and then account management, this events experience led to other moonlighting opportunities with another colleague who did corporate shindigs and now handles restaurant publicity. The weddings kept my weekends busy until both my boss and I tied the knot ourselves, whereupon she retired from the business. Since Little A came along, I've only done weddings on request - for people I know, or through their recommendations. Other events are accommodated as my schedule allows, particularly since I now manage two shops. It can't hurt to keep a hand in, as you never know who you'll meet and what might come out of it.

Since things returned to a normal pace at work this month, in order to keep from getting too complacent I found myself agreeing to organise a surprise party for our book club's founder, write a press release and assist at a media launch for a high end bakery, and speak at my son's school Open House - all of which took place within the span of five days. I had little choice in that last one, but it wouldn't be a good idea to turn down an invitation to speak when one's son will be attending that school for another decade or so of his academic years.

The party came together thanks to some very talanted and organised individuals in the book club. On seeing what I thought would be a perfect present for the club founder's upcoming birthday, I suggested to some of my fellow members that we share the cost and surprise her, and from there things snowballed quite quickly into a surprise party with a set theme, handcrafted decorations, a cake, goody bags and the completely styled venue. It was quite a success, if the attendees' reactions and the post-event Facebook posts are anything to go by.

On the morning of Party Day, I was slotted to speak at my son's school Open House/Fundraiser. With an email of brief guidelines (3-5 minutes, talk about the IEP programme), I wasn't sure what to speak about or how to prepare for this. I arrived a little early, and sat and wrote a few notes. When the parent testimonials began, however, I quickly realised my three minute bullet point speech wouldn't cut it. So when my turn came, I had to wing it.

As with most spur-of-the-moment speeches, I recall very little of what I actually said, but an assistant headmistress from the international school Little A's teachers came from told me later that I "spoke very well." Two mornings later, Little A's headmaster asked if I would be the official marketing spokesperson for the school, because so many parents had been impressed by my testimonial. That was a nice thing to hear.

On to the writing for cookies bit, my friend took on a PR job with very little time to prepare. Accustomed to delivering under pressure, she asked me to help. Payment would be partly in kind - gift certificates for baked goods. Who could say no to cookies, croissants and delectable eclairs?

Again, that went well, and I was especially thrilled when my press release, corporate profile and post-event release were received without revision requests by the bakery's owners. It gave me a little extra cash (promptly spent on theatre tickets) and an ego boost to realise that time may be flying by, but in terms of professional capabilities, I still haven't lost it. Til the next party, then! 

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