Hello 2019!

Well, Christmas and New Year are well and truly over. After a quiet Christmas break with loads of much needed rest, I’m now looking to the year ahead, and counting down until our days get longer and warmer.

Having re-read my Hello 2018 blog post, my first thought is that we still haven’t finished our house renovations but at least we’re just (still) painting and all building work is in the past.

2018 was a busy one for work here at Breathe PR, which included working on some really breath-taking art exhibitions for Manchester art gallery Contemporary Six; working on a large RHS Tatton show garden with garden designer Warnes McGarr & Co (pictured) and continuing with PR and marketing work promoting the amazing work of Arc Centre & Gallery in Stockport.

I also started working with a new retainer client, InTouch Ltd, which does some fascinating Internet of Things technology work and has a number of diverse products with very niche markets.

Through last year and continuing this year, I also do project work with brilliant charity City of Trees, which combines my passions of horticulture and the environment, the city of Manchester, as well as working with charities.

Social media management is still a large part of my job, and I am a retained social media manager for a large listed business, which has multiple accounts, as well as posting across all social media channels when required for all of my other clients.

I also started my second horticulture course at Cheadle College in September which gives me a much-needed break away from the laptop and learning new skills. Over Christmas I decided that my garden just wasn’t big enough to grow as many vegetables and fruits that I needed so I managed to bag an allotment plot just around the corner from my house.

In terms of getting out of the home office, I’ve also taken on a part-time office in nearby Levenshulme which means a two mile round trip to get that step-count up and some extra fresh air.

So, 2019 is shaping up to be another busy one and my tenth year as a self-employed PR and marketing consultant, so let’s see what the year brings.

Image: The Poisonous Garden at RHS Tatton by Warnes MccGarr & Co. Copyright: Carolyn Hughes/ Breathe PR.

Best coffee shops in Manchester for freelance working

Got your shiny Macbook? Thick black-rimmed glasses? At least one tattoo or piercing? Yep, then you’re ready for some coffee shop freelance working in Manchester!

I work from home a lot of the time, but at least once a week I like to get out the house and get into Manchester city centre. There’s a plethora of coffee shops around the city centre, which are perfect for tapping out an article for a client, or putting together a report. I tend to stick to the Northern Quarter a lot of the time because it’s right near Piccadilly Station, but I have been making the effort to head out to the rest of the city centre recently.

Here’s my favourite places in Manchester for a cup of tea and a spot of freelance PR working:

1. Fig & Sparrow
Set on Oldham Street, right in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Fig & Sparrow is a briliant place to work. I can usually get my favourite table (the booth opposite the till, that’s mine, so don’t sit there), they have lovely fresh leaf tea, Trove bread and great food.
The food is right up my street – salads and sandwiches – with some great veggie options, as well as Greek yoghurt with toppings if I’m there early for breakfast.
When it opened, there was a big focus on very desirable & trendy home products. This section has been reduced to make way for more tables, which we can only thank them for, but there are still plenty of homewares on display, as well as beautiful greeting cards and wrapping paper.
Fig & Sparrow, 20 Oldham Street, M1 1JA.

2. Trove
Not strictly in the city centre, but Trove is just one hop on the train from Piccadilly and it’s one of my regular working spots. I lived in Levenshulme for seven years and Trove was the first decent coffee shop that opened there, so it was BIG news. They then opened their own bakery and sell bread, croissants and cakes from the Levenshulme coffee shop.
They have a brilliant range of breakfasts, including my favourite, the vegan breakfast, as well as loads of veggie and vegan food. I always ask for a sourdough loaf to be put aside so I can take it home as well.
Trove is just 20 minutes walk from my home office, so if I need to get out the house quickly, that’s always where I head.
Trove, 1032 Stockport Road, M19 3WX.

3. Evelyn’s Cafe & Bar
Evelyn’s is a new one on my schedule of Northern Quarter venues, and one that I will be going back to loads. Tucked away just next to where Simple Bar used to be, Evelyn’s is a beauty of a coffee shop and restaurant, with greenery hanging all around and a handy bar and stools area, with a view out to the street. I’ve not tried the food yet, but everything looked and smelled amazing, with brilliant veggie options, so I’ll be back soon. The waitress was really incredibly friendly and helpful and told me all her favourite things on the menu.
Additionally, the owners have opened a members club downstairs called The Daisy, which they are marketing towards freelancers to use during the day. I’ve not had a look round yet, but will report back.
Evelyn’s Cafe & Bar, Tib Street, M4 1NB

4. Manchester Central Library
The Central Library is a beautiful place to work, and has a cafe and plenty of seating space with free wifi throughout the whole of the library. The library closed for refurbishment in 2010 when I was still working in the city centre, and the four years it needed for the £50m refurbishment felt like forever. But here we are eight years later, and it’s amazing to see such a stunning, busy, bustling place.
The library is quiet in the mornings, but does get pretty busy as the day goes on, although you can always find a quiet corner if you look hard.
Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square, M2 5PD.

5. The Pen & Pencil
This is my go-to stop off at the end of a busy working day in Manchester, sometimes when I’m waiting for my husband to finish work at his studio at the top of Fourways House. I like to grab a booth, order a G&T and finish off my last few bits of work before we head home. This ultra-cool industrial style bar, set in a beautiful Edwardian former warehouse, does get pretty busy, always plays good music and is right near Piccadilly Station, so thumbs up all round.
The Pen & Pencil, Hilton Steet, M1 2EJ.

6. Grindsmith
Based right on busy Deansgate, Grindsmith is a great coffee shop. Now I don’t drink coffee at all, but from what I’m told, their freshly-ground coffee is VERY good. This is a brilliant spot if you’re ever at a meeting at the Deansgate end of the city centre and I like to perch on the high table and stool right at the front so I can watch the world go by as I’m working.
This cafe also has a free hireable space, which is brilliant for putting on events.
231-233 Deansgate, M3 4EN.


Hello 2018

Well 2017 was an extraordinarily busy year. After setting up my business trading name as Breathe PR at the very end of 2016, I didn’t quite stop for air in 2017.

One of my largest projects was working as a horticulture freelance PR for the award-winning garden design consultancy Warnes McGarr & Co. The design and build duo had exhibited a show garden at RHS Tatton for the previous two years, but in 2017 they were widely tipped for a much coveted gold award, which they then won – and some. A more detailed case study on this will follow.

I also work as a freelance social media manager for an international company, managing a number of Twitter accounts, a Facebook page, Pinterest account, as well as advising brand managers on running their own sub-pages. This keeps me very busy, and, of course, I have to stay well up-to-date on frequent changes to social media platforms.

I also completed a LOT of copywriting projects, most of them with SEO as a strong focus, as I do a lot of website writing for various agencies and organisations.

One of the biggest difficulties in working as a freelance PR consultant is scheduling work – you need enough work to cover bills, but enough flexibility so that if an amazing client comes your way you have the capacity to say YES please! After nine years of working an independent consultant, I’ve got a lot better at this.

On the other side of life, I also took a bit of down time in the Autumn to project manage a new kitchen diner extension at my home. For someone who usually works alone, having a house full of loud builders was unusual, and at times, difficult. But that’s the beauty of managing your own workload as a freelance PR and marketing consultant – you can take it up and down for completely flexibility on your own terms.

And the plus side for 2018 is that now I have a completely renovated and dedicated home working area. I tend to work from home around 50% of my time, with the other half being based either in a workspace in Stockport or an office in the Northern Quarter in Manchester city centre. I also spend a fair amount of time finding the best coffee shops for the perfect freelance working set-up.

Looking ahead to 2018, I’m happily very busy at the moment getting booked up with projects that I’m 100% passionate about. I specialise in working with lifestyle and interiors, horticulture, arts and events and charities PR and marketing, so have some very exciting clients about to be signed off.

I think I’ve almost recovered from the Christmas break, although I do miss eating Terry’s Chocolate Oranges for breakfast. Anyway, hello 2018!



A new business name for 2017

So, I finally decided to change my business name from that of a freelancer to a small PR consultancy. And so, Carolyn Hughes Communications Ltd became Breathe PR at the end of 2016, which was timely for a fresh January start.

The name Breathe PR reflects a way of life that is probably opposed to the way most PR agencies work. As a former stress-head, my new business name is a reminder to just breathe. And as stupid as it may initially sound, sometimes we all need to remember to just breathe in these stress-filled office-based lives.

I initially set up as a freelance PR consultant in 2008 and since then I have run my own business and worked for quite a few PR agencies on long-term contracts, which has meant some very busy and stressful times. I then had two children in quick succession so the busy times got even busier.

I feel that the new business name reflects a shift in mindset to remember to enjoy life instead of being stuck in a head-down work mode. This can be hard when you enjoy your work and really enjoy getting stuck into a project. But I’ve (finally) realised that it’s better to be fresh and work smarter having taken a proper break from work at the weekends and evenings.

The name Breathe PR also takes into account my love for nature, gardening outdoors as well as growing indoor plants, so I used a terrarium shape for my new logo to reflect that part of my personality. I have also decided to specialise in doing PR and marketing for environmental, horticulture, interiors & homes business, independent businesses as well as arts organisations and charities.

I work with all kinds of clients, and also do some white-label work for some larger PR agencies and digital agencies. Although I’ve named my business as a PR agency, I actually have just as many copywriting, SEO and social media clients as PR.

Follow me on my new business pages for updates and over-sharing on growing a small business.