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Be and be seen as – the most reliable reputation management
Sally Seed of Stoneleigh Communications has been working with The Wool Clip cooperative for several years now, promoting the members’ shared shop at Caldbeck and also highlighting their contribution to all things wool, woollen and cooperative. The tone and content of recent Wool Clip activities has challenged perceptions and is gradually developing their reputation for great ideas.
The only problem on working with The Wool Clip is that people make assumptions about who they are, what they do and how they work. Images of little old ladies sitting knitting in a dark corner of Priest’s Mill seems to be a popular view, rather than seeing an energetic and enthusiastic group of designers and makers who are committed to adding value to one of Cumbria’s great products, wool. Members’ ages range from about 20 to 70+ and the ideas generated when they get together mean that things tend to happen.
For instance, as they approached their tenth birthday last year, members started to think about celebrations and also how best to use the anniversary as a sales hook. Within a few months, there were special ten year kits on sale in the shop, from a jacket knitted in ten pieces to a lace knit scarf using ten different stitches and a needle felted Herdwick sheep with a 10 as a shepherd’s mark.
And they didn’t just have a birthday party.
Ten trees around the shop were wrapped in colourful knitting and crochet and then festooned with knitted bunting and perched with parrots and other birds. There were felted flowers in the grass, a knitted tap on the down pipe and even a sloth hanging from a tree and crocheted spiders webs in the trees.
Telling people about this – or showing them - immediately changes their views of The Wool Clip. Suddenly there’s an association with colour, with humour and with a slightly more up-to-date and quirky view of wool and wool crafts. Reputation management through action and activity – spot on.
So far so good.
Then The Wool Clip was asked to get involved in a newly commissioned art exhibition at Rheged called WOW – the wonder of wool and the art of knit and stitch. Marion Woolcott (who deserves a special name check) knitted and sewed a complete Herdwick wool cover for a specially made gallery bench – and had the sore finger ends to prove it! The organisers of the exhibition also wanted to strengthen the links to local wool groups and invited The Wool Clip to submit pieces for consideration. Ten members created “more arty” pieces and were slightly stunned when all ten were selected to join art works from across the UK in this very special WOW of an exhibition.
At the preview event, this Cumbrian cooperative of spinners, weavers, knitters et al received the kind of response to their work that they deserve – WOW!
And, as someone who has worked on their publicity and PR for so long, it was brilliant to see their reputation beginning to match the reality.
Sally Seed is a Director of Stoneleigh Communications Limited, based in Orton and her website is www.stoneleighcomms.co.uk with a Twitter feed @CommunicatorSal. Ali Turnbull’s website is www.fit-to-print.co.uk and you can follow her on www.twitter.com/fit_to_print
The Wool Clip can be found online at www.woolclip.com and has a Facebook page, as does Woolfest,organised by members of The Wool Clip and online at www.woolfest.co.uk. The WOW exhibition at Rheged is open every day until 15 April and there are drop in workshops on Saturdays, including some run by Wool Clip members – see www.rheged.com.