The secret of success

The winner of the Public Sector Achievement Award at last year’s Isle of Man Newspapers Awards for Excellence was the Department for the Environment Food and Agriculture for creating and running the popular Isle of Man Food and Drink Festival. The DEFA’s marketing manager, Audrey Fowler. accepted the award on behalf of the team and she explained this week what makes a successful entry. ‘This was our second time of being nominated so I would want to encourage people and tell them, just because they didn’t win the first time, do try a second or even a third time. It’s definitely worth putting that form in again!’ said Audrey. Public Sector Achievement has always been a notably strong category at the awards, with a high standard of entries, and Audrey said that it was a category she was pleased to come out on top in. One of the things the awards judges always look for in a winning entry is a success that is measurable and Audrey said: ‘With the Food and Drink Festival that was quite easy to do because in 2009 we had 32 exhibitors and last year we had more than 50, which is one measure of success. ‘An event like the Food and Drink Festival leaves a footprint of statistics, as well as a growth that is obvious to anyone who attends. Everything is provable and the feedback we’re getting is so positive every year. ‘When you think about it, having more than 100 independent food producers on a small island is an achievement in itself and giving them a framework of support, which includes the Food and Drink Festival where they can showcase their wares, has been a great encouragement to many of them. ‘ Another thing the judges look for, in all of the awards categories, is how the submission reflects the Freedom to Flourish values. Quite clearly, the Isle of Man Food and Drink Festival fits very nicely with this, as a key element in the government’s Food Matters strategy, and a way of supporting so many growers, producers and restaurants on the island, as Audrey explains: ‘Every year we get smiling faces from the exhibitors at the end of the two days, all really complimentary of the event. They’ve made new contacts, they’ve made lots of money by being there – it’s all networking – and that’s all helping to grow the economy. ‘The Food and Drink Festival also helps to introduce people to the idea of buying locally grown and produced food and we’re getting more and more organisations, like the local media, buying in to that idea. ‘It’s important to us to involve the restaurants too, through the Chef of the Year contest, with the finals being part of the Food and Drink Festival programme. They are really big buyers of local meat and produce, and we want to see more Manx on the menu and more people asking for it.’ Since the event was first held in 2009 it has continued to grow with financial support from government but last year it broke even for the first time. This year Magnet Kitchens will be sponsoring the event, giving it a further financial boost. The team at the the DEFA is assisted by an enthusiastic committee. Audrey said: ‘Over the years, our committee has continued to grow, which is very encouraging. We now have 20 people on it, predominantly producers but also people who have been to the Festival and want to be a strong part of it and they are brilliant at bringing new ideas forward.’ When it comes to the benefits of winning, as a marketing person Audrey appreciates the way it can raise the profile of an event or organisation. ‘We now put the award winners’ logo on all our emails, including the chief executive’s,’ she said. ‘I think that, in particular, is a really lovely thing to have and I think it certainly helps when we are looking for sponsors for the festival – it’s a very good marketing tool.’ And then, of course, there’s the awards night itself. Audrey said: ‘When they announced the winners, I was so shocked but really pleased for the Food and Drink Festival to get it. ‘It’s a fantastic night and something I’ll always remember – just total glitz and glamour!’ Entries are now being invited for this year’s Isle of Man Newspapers’ Awards for Excellence. There are 16 award categories, for companies, individuals public sector teams and charitable organisations. 

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