They are off and running in the 2024 Paul Myles Memorial Run last April. All proceeds went to Cavan Monaghan Palliative Care and the Friends of Drumlin House.8PHOTO: Sean McMahon

WordSmith: Posters on poles, and power-full walks

By the time you’re reading this you’ve no doubt made your mind up and perhaps, made your mark. Next week the pole-people will be coming down; and those elected will take their official seats on the council. Last week a pair of power-walkers overtook me, “He takes a good snap,” said one, to her exercise partner as they passed a beaming candidate’s poster.

Currently, we’re surrounded by snapped-pictures of electoral candidates cable-tied to poles. But they’re so much more than photos. Probably, there would’ve been months of board-room-brainstorms before the candidate even looked at a camera. I often look at them with my marketing-hat on (it’s a flat-cap, as opposed to my everyday baseball-cap). Every detail would be considered: To smile or not to smile? Direct eye contact or staring into the distance? Smart or casual? Then onto design: Placement of logo, colours, and background. There’s a huge amount of marketing psychology that goes into the creation of what would be considered an essential piece of visual-communication by all parties going into an election.

Now, I’ll walk away from local-elections and towards local-charity: The Paul Myles Memorial Run/Jog/Walk. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of an event I always look forward to. And more so, as an ex advertising man, I’m hugely impressed with the instinctual marketing skills of the Myles family: Maud, Yvonne, and Martin. They consistently create a great community/charity event from a self-generated budget, “After the walk, the three of us put a wee bit of money away; we do that every week to fund next year’s event,” explained Maud.

It's an event that I see as a master-class in marketing; encompassing memorable branding, print and digital advertising, and the most effective of marketing tools: word-of-mouth. The fact that this event is organised by a team of three, with no advertising experience is remarkable; and testament to their passionate dedication to ensure local charities benefit from their efforts. And of course, there is the main man himself: their driving force, the late husband and father who pushes them onwards; and who walks with every one of us on the day – Paul Myles.

Prior to the event, a sense of anticipation builds as people speculate as to which colour the t-shirts will be (not revealed until pre-registration). And also, which local charities will benefit from our donations. This year it was: Cavan/Monaghan Palliative Care, and Friends of Drumlin House.

Personally, what I love most about the event is the camaraderie amongst the participants. On the morning there’s a buzz of excitement as people began to mingle and get ready to: run, jog ,or walk. As I slurped a pre-walk coffee and ate a bun; I felt the power, compassion, and comfort in people coming together to take part in something special.

As the 12 noon start time loomed, the serious runners limbered up – then we were all off. The day was mercifully mild and dry and I enjoyed a good natter with my walking companions as we traversed the route. At the end it was lovely to be greeted by the Myles family, to see our official time, and be given our medal. In The Orchard afterwards, refreshments flowed and the raffle began, “We wanted to keep it to 10 spot prizes, but people were so generous in donating, we have over 20!” said Maud, as she took to the podium to announce the winners. I revelled in the community atmosphere.

Coretta Scott King said: “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” And that for me sums up The Paul Myles Memorial Run.

Afterwards Yvonne messaged me, “Did you take any pictures on the walk?” And such was my immersion in the day, the phone stayed in my pocket (that’s rare). But, I did take my cap off to them, took a picture in my Paul Myles t-shirt and posted it on my socials.

I write this not to undermine the big charity events, but to champion the small ones that matter, massively.

Now, back to those posters. I was asked recently, “Who will you vote for?” And my answer is with the young lad who when asked, “What party would you vote for?” answered decisively, “The one with the most jelly and ice-cream!”


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