My discussions with the editor of this newspaper tend to be pretty varied.  They cover the horizon from serious to funny, from the very local to the very international, from books and British TV to music, and lots of things in between. During one of our email talks, he mentioned the very interesting Tom Cridland, a self-proclaimed British entrepreneur and podcast host, who is currently on a tour of America with his Elton John Tribute band.

Tom’s tour, and much of the journey of his life, has been inspired by 75-year-old Elton John, who is now on his final ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ three year concert tour, which was put on hold for two years due to the pandemic. The iconic British pop star who was born in the town of Pinner, only two miles away from where I was raised in Greater London, and was christened Reginald Kenneth Dwight.  He changed his name to Elton John long before he found success, and by the 1970s he was the most successful pop artist of his era, collaborating with gifted songwriter Bernie Taupin. I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s against the background of his music and crazy stage costumes, and I was lucky enough to see him play at Wembley Arena in the early 1980s since this was only a few London Underground rail stations from where I lived. Another memory that most British people have of Elton John is a sad one – playing at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. He had been a close friend of Diana, and millions of us tearfully watched on live TV as he changed the lyrics of “Candle in the Wind” to “Goodbye England’s Rose”.

Elton John’s piano playing is legendary and he began piano lessons at the age of four, winning a scholarship to London’s Royal Academy of Music at only eleven years old and playing in London pubs during his late teens and early twenties. Success, when it came, was huge. He has sold over 300 million albums, which includes 50 Top 40 hits and seven consecutive No. 1 hits here in the United States. He has also won five Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards, a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award, a Disney Legends Award and a Tony Award. Elton John has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. He was knighted in 1998 by the Queen for his services to music and philanthropy, especially AIDS research, so is now ‘Sir Elton John’.

However, he has had some major struggles in his life which have been widely reported and documented, not least in the 2019 movie ‘Rocketman’. In the 1970s and 1980s, he suffered from drug and alcohol addiction and bulimia but came through it in one piece.

So back to the journey of Tom Cridland, a fellow Brit and University of Bristol graduate like myself, who has been inspired so deeply by Elton John.  Cridland explains that “Elton’s songs have helped me recover from serious addiction, nearly drinking myself to serious injury and death on a number of occasions”.

Cridland’s story goes like this: “Elton John is my favorite solo artist. I have attended over 30 of his concerts, like a football fan would go to games”. But Tom used to drink very heavily, and became a danger to himself and obnoxious to those around him. He used to loudly and constantly play Elton’s latest live rendition of ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ on his phone. “Uber drivers can’t have liked this masterpiece as much as me on full volume, as my Uber rating plummeted” he laughs today. “This fandom evolved into endlessly performing this song clad in some novelty glasses at karaoke bars. That karaoke has evolved into writing, singing, recording and now performing professionally.” He finally made the decision to stop drinking. “What literally helped me get through each day when I was trying to stop consuming alcohol was listening and playing Elton and Taupin’s timeless songs and making music. It helped me finally kick the booze. Now I drink 20 herbal teas per day. I’ve lost a lot of friends but I know who the real ones are and I know how unbelievably lucky I am.”

Cridland’s song, Falling off the Rails, caught the attention of the Grammy nominated Philadelphia Soul group The Stylistics, and they invited him to tour with them last month.  Cridland is honoring Elton John’s last concert tour by undertaking one himself, covering every single state in the US, playing covers of Elton’s songs.  There is more information at https://tomcridland.medium.com/ and www.imdb.com.

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Elton John himself: “The great thing about rock and roll is that someone like me can be a star!”

God Bless America and British rock stars!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com.


September 1, 2022

By Shelby McKee, VP of Digital Design


Many business people are very confident about their knowledge and expertise in their own sector but when it comes to digital design and marketing, they are often out of date and confused. We hear comments like, “We gave it to the intern to design” or “I paid good money for a website five years ago”. Imagine letting a junior mechanic make important repairs to your car, or not servicing or even changing the oil in your car for years at a time. You wouldn’t dream of doing that, so why do so many businesses ignore their online presence? There is nothing more likely to put off potential customers than seeing a neglected, unprofessional website with out-of-date information. Your online presence today is yesterday’s shop window. In today’s world, especially since COVID-19, people immediately search online for information about a business, and are quick to consider or dismiss the business depending on what they see online. 

So, what is digital marketing? Digital marketing starts with a great website. This is the place that your target audience, potential clients and customers will go when they want to learn more. It needs to be crisp, clear, compelling, and represent your organization’s look and feel and tone. Your website should be user-friendly, accessible and fast, so that anyone who visits your website has a positive experience. It should visually tie together all the other strands of your well-thought-out marketing campaign. And these days it absolutely must be fully optimized for mobile users, as more people check websites on their cell phone than a computer. We all have the frustrating experience of trying to navigate a traditional “desktop” website on your smartphone! Devote resources to your website, spend time on its content, spend as much as you can afford and keep it updated. 

A good, solid social media presence comes next, Being not he right platforms for your target audiences (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.) is key to getting widespread engagement for your business or organization. We also recommend featuring a live feed of your social media posts directly on your website. For example, your website can include a vibrant gallery of your latest Instagram posts. This builds trust with your audience and provides a more dynamic and engaging experience. And don’t forget customer reviews and positive recommendations and testimonials – people want to know what other peoples’ experiences have been with you. 

Remember when we used to get excited to receive a newsletter or update from an organization or business by email rather than in the old-fashioned mail? Now, many people are overwhelmed by the number of these that they receive so while these online communications are very powerful marketing tools, they need to be targeted, offer valuable information to the recipients, be sent with people’s consent and not be too frequent or you will be blocked forever!

All these digital marketing needs should come together in a way that maximizes exposure in the right places. We do this for our clients in a number of ways:

  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Content automation
  • Data-driven marketing and many more.

In our view, the best digital marketing campaigns tie closely into our more traditional media outlets, including print, broadcast, and event management. Remember, for ANY type of marketing to be successful, it needs to reach enough of the right target audiences enough times with a message that convinces and prompts the desired action, change in behavior or opinions. 

LFPR is a full-service marketing agency offering a full range of website development and online promotion as well as traditional graphic design, social media services, advertising and public relations. 

Source: Richmond Hill Neighbors magazine | Issue September 2022 | Page 25

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Phone: 912-417-5377
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