Blogged down... to London!

Back in June 2012, when I first started this Blog, the idea was that it would be in equal parts therapy, a document of the team's work and a place to share our innovations with the University and wider HE marketing sector.

St. Paul's cathedral made a particularly
impressive (and prophetic) backdrop

Little did I know that two years (and 49 posts) later I'd be up for a national award at the inaugural National UK Blog Awards 2014 and with over 900 entries, just making it into the shortlist was a massive achievement for me. The ceremony was due to be held at the very swanky Grange hotel in St. Paul's and was all the brainchild and hard work of Gemma Pears and Becki Cross who saw the need for bloggers from all sectors to be recognised on a national scale. Needless to say they did an amazing job of laying on a truly memorable night for all involved.

So, as soon as I finished work on Friday I rushed home to get dressed up in my trusty Matalan Tux (the cost per-wear is now down to 13p!) and headed down to the big smoke. The hotel was definitely a very impressive venue just across the road from the cathedral and I grabbed my event lanyard for a bit of networking and lots of food (the Content Click sponsored cupcakes were particularly nice). There was also a very tempting candyfloss and popcorn stand and I was suitably impressed by the scale of the whole event.

The Grange made a brilliant venue
with great views from the top floor
At 8.30pm we took our seats for the awards ceremony to begin! Having looked at the competition I was certain that this was not going to be my night. They seemed to blog with much more regularity and also have a more monetised publishing model than this lowly blog with its modest readership. In fact, I was so certain I wasn't going to win that I promised my wife I'd shave off my beard if I did...

I was up against bloggers who have appeared on TV with their work and was amongst special guests who included BBC Click, the original Stig from Top Gear and the Mayor of Camden. The awards then started with a bang (and an Oscar inspired selfie) and I really enjoyed being at a ceremony which was refreshingly un-corporate. What was great was that as well as the usual big brands there were also lots of people there who just enjoy writing their blogs for themselves from home. This meant there was a real mix of people making it all the more refreshing.

My category was up fourth and then the announcement came: "Winner of the organisation category - the Digital Marketing Team Blog!" Woah...

On stage collecting my award from the
very generous judges!
From then on the whole evening became a bit of a blur. I was absolutely shocked and flattered to have won such a prestigious prize against such brilliant opposition. I really didn't feel I deserved it but whilst sipped a refreshing gin and tonic and waiting for my photo (and video interview!) I had an opportunity to chat to the judges in my category. Elliot Simmonds from DJS Research and VoicED and Julian Stanley the CEO of the Teacher Support Network were a couple of really friendly guys and whilst comparing the delights of the Grange to a Travelodge they assured me that there was a particularly stringent mark scheme to decide on the winner. I must be doing something right then!

I came away from the evening with a brilliant trophy, a winners certificate and a hilarious goodie bag (containing carpet samples, tea, wallpaper rolls, Brazilian cocktail mixer, wedding magazines and a USB stick). I also made some really good contacts and have some amazing memories for the future.

Finally, I'd like to sign off my fiftieth post by thanking my team - as without their excellent work I'd have nothing worth blogging about! Now do I shave off my beard as I promised or not...?
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