THANK YOU AND REST IN PEACE QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Last week, the world lost a much-loved iconic leader and a massively stabilizing influence. Like most British people, I now feel like a little piece of my heart has gone forever. Of course, she was 96 years old and logically we knew she could not stay with us always. But when I heard the news, I felt that the world shifted on its axis and will never be the same again. The sadness is more intense because – quite simply for almost everyone in Britain, across the Commonwealth, and around the world –  she has always been there. She was already 40 years old and a mother of four when I was born, but she was steadfast and dutiful and consistent and unchanging. She was the heart and soul of the UK, and the solid foundation of our long history.

In a speech given on her 21st birthday in 1947, the then-Princess Elizabeth went on the radio and made this promise to post-war Britain and its Commonwealth nations: “My whole life, whether it be short or long, will be devoted to your service.” And so it was to be, right up to the very end. Two days before her death, she greeted the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and as is the tradition in the UK, asked her to form a government and become prime minister. It was The Queen’s job, her duty, her obligation, and her promise to the British people, and she did it despite the toll it must have taken on her during her last 48 hours on earth. She told us 75 years earlier during that speech that she would always do her duty, and she did it to the end.

Queen Elizabeth II has been consistently true to her words of that 1947 speech, devoting her 70-year reign to her country, her commonwealth nations, and her subjects. Rarely in history has any leader been more completely, unwaveringly and selflessly devoted to her people.

As monarch, The Queen rose above politics and divisiveness. She stood firm on the principal of a non-politically aligned monarchy, and always focused on what was best for her subjects. She constantly promoted goodwill, communication, peace, and making the world a better place. She weathered internal scandals and bad behavior of other members of her royal family, worked with 15 British Prime Ministers, met with 13 of the last 14 US Presidents (somehow LBJ missed out), and guided the monarchy through innumerable changes over her seven decade reign. She was the longest-serving monarch in British history, and at her passing at age 96 she had been patron to over 800 charitable organizations. The Queen is currently being mourned by tens of millions of Brits, hundreds of millions across the Commonwealth, and billions around the world. By some accounts, the Queen was the most popular person in human history. 

I am thankful for the marks of respect given by the other land I love, the USA. President Joe Biden has announced that he will attend her funeral and said “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era”. I have been deeply touched by how many American friends have reached out to me to express their sympathy and support for the loss of the Queen. Many of them really “get” how I feel. I have even been interviewed on TV and on Georgia Public Broadcasting radio.

So how did it all start? Once upon a time, back in 1926 in the land of my birth, a beautiful princess was born. This princess was smart, lively, personable, strong-willed and fun. She and her younger sister were princesses because their grandfather was the King, so their father was The Duke of York, and their slightly older uncle was The Duke of Windsor and in line to be the next King.

When she was just 10 years old, the arc of her life changed in ways she couldn’t completely comprehend as a child. Her uncle had indeed become King in 1936 but decided later that year that he couldn’t do it. He didn’t feel he was cut out to be the King, and he was also in love with and wanted to marry an American divorcee, which would have been completely against the 1,000-year-old rules of the monarchy. He therefore abdicated the throne, which is the British phrase meaning he resigned from being King.

So, our princesses’ beloved but very shy father reluctantly had to take on the role and step in and step up to become King George VI, which changed the line of royal ascension over to include our princess, his oldest child. As a teenager and against her father’s wishes, she joined the armed forces during World War II and worked hard, becoming a much-admired inspiration to her country during those difficult years. Britain and the whole world started paying close attention to her.

In 1947, she married her own prince, a British war hero descended from the Greek and Danish royal family who came to England as a child. He was tall, good-looking, an outdoorsman, a race car driver, a sailor, and a pilot. Prince Philip was a real “man’s man”, and although he was no doubt what today we would call “a handful” during those early years of their marriage, they went on to have four children together, and he became her supportive rock that stood by that young princesses’ side during a 73-year marriage until his death at 99 last year. Seeing our Queen mourn alone in the chapel, due to COVID-19 restrictions which meant she could not sit close to her family, was heartbreaking and brought millions of us to tears. But she did not once consider abdication, she just carried on with her job and her commitments… just as she promised.

Back to her life story. In 1952, while the glamorous young couple were on a royal trip across Africa, the terrible news came: her much loved father, King George VI, tragically died at the young age of just 52. So that young princess became The Queen.

She took this responsibility at the age of 25 and was an early and  magnificent example of how women can be leaders. She was inspirational to several generations of young British girls, me included. She provided a quiet strength, work ethic and dependability, and also had a deep religious faith which sustained her. 

I tearfully say goodbye this week with a quote from the great lady herself, formally known as ‘Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.’  She said back in 2016: “On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine”.  

I really do miss her and I am thankful for her life, her contribution to history, and to her impact on me personally.  God Bless America, Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and RIP Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022. Thank you, Your Majesty.

– 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

SAVANNAH BALLET THEATRE TO PRESENT ORIGINAL JACK THE RIPPER BALLET – OCT. 21-22, 2022

SAVANNAH, GA – Sept. 12, 2022 – The Savannah Ballet Theatre (SBT) is slated to celebrate the spookiest time of year by performing Jack the Ripper at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 22 at Tybee Post Theatre, 10 Van Horne Ave, Tybee Island, GA 31328. Tickets start at $20 and are available for purchase on the Events page on Tybee Post Theater’s website, www.tybeeposttheater.org.

Most people are familiar with the story of Jack the Ripper, an unidentified British Victorian era murderer, but not those of his victims. This ballet tells the story from the perspective of the five female victims known to have been killed by this criminal. These victims, often referred to as ‘The Canonical Five’, were murdered over a three-month period between August and November 1888. To this day, Jack the Ripper remains an unsolved case. His identity was never discovered, and he was never brought to justice.

“We are very excited to bring back this fan favorite for the Halloween season after its debut in 2019. These shows quickly sold out in the past and we’re anticipating another good turnout this year,” said SBT Artistic Director Suzanne Braddy. “This was the first historically accurate ballet created by SBT. We created it from the women’s perspective, and I think it’s even better than the traditional Jack the Ripper tales.”  

This rendition of Jack the Ripper is a contemporary production created by SBT in 2019 that demonstrates how the traditional art form of ballet has evolved for today’s audiences. This 55-minute performance is suggested for children 13 and older. While the ballet will not be gory, it does feature adult content.

SBT is Savannah and southeast Georgia’s only professional dance company. It is their mission to develop and showcase the talent of dedicated Savannah dancers alongside top professional dancers who train in the studio, and to engage in educational outreach and promotion of the art of dance within the community.

For more information about Jack the Ripper or on the history and mission of the Savannah Ballet Theatre & School of Dance, please visit www.savannahballettheatre.org.

-ENDS-

For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or 229-393-6457 or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

HE’S STILL STANDING – THANKS TO ELTON JOHN

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.

BLOG – SEPTEMBER 2022 – DIGITAL MARKETING

September 2022

By Shelby McKee, VP of Digital Design

blog-sept2022

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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