Michelle Jones lives in Old Town and she’s proud to be the manager of the We Are Swindon campaign.
She loves living in Swindon with her husband and daughters, who are eight- and eleven-years-old and their cats Matthew and Dominic. Obviously, she’s very passionate about her town and promoting it positively. One of the reasons why she does this is so her daughters can feel proud of their home town and where they are growing up.
Going to university wasn’t supposed to happen.
I grew up in Park South and attended Churchfields school. Sadly, I didn’t always have the easiest of childhoods. At one point, I was living in a homeless hostel for women and children. But I studied hard and did as much paid work as teenagers were allowed to. Then I did my A-Levels at St Joseph’s. Going to university wasn’t something that people in my family did. The word university wasn’t even mentioned when I was at school. But I did and I graduated with a 2:1 BSc (Hons) degree in 1998. There was no happier person on the planet that day.
Off to London, I go.
After a couple of years in the book-buying department in WH Smith head office, I moved to London to find the opportunities that it had to offer. I worked and lived there for five years. Including working as Global Promotions Manager for Celador on ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’.
Back in Swindon Town to have my own family.
2006 saw me head back home to Swindon, where I focused on my career in marketing and met my now husband. We had a white wedding on a sunny August day in Christ Church in Old Town. Followed by an amazing marquee wedding reception in the Walled Garden at Lydiard Park. We soon had two wonderful daughters.
Who’s promoting Swindon to the people of Swindon?
I worked for a few years for Swindon Borough Council on marketing campaigns promoting Swindon for inward investment and attracting new businesses to the town. I absolutely loved doing this but I soon realised that no one was properly promoting Swindon to the people who lived here. Businesses and events were being promoted but not the actual town itself and the lifestyle that the Swindon people have. Me for one, a lifestyle that I love.
People were still constantly saying negative things about the town. I knew from living elsewhere that this was mainly coming from ‘comedians’ on the TV or from the Swindon people themselves. But when they were questioned about it, they usually always backed down saying that they like living here. People were saying negative things, because it was the thing to do. I also realised that there was a large amount of people that would say very positive things about our town and their lives in it.
Welcome the birth of We Are Swindon.
At this time social media was becoming more and more popular and powerful. As an enthusiastic marketer, I was excited to form a new love for digital marketing.
The We Are Swindon Instagram page was stuck at 17 followers for a few weeks and I nearly gave up. But I didn’t.
I continued taking and posting #PositiveSwindon photos, sharing others photos of Swindon when they tagged #We_Are_Swindon. Each post was published with a positive caption and my strategy, which I still follow, is that the photo has to be recognisable as Swindon.
Reaching and engaging with thousands of local people.
We Are Swindon is now reaching approximately 50,000 people each month, on Facebook alone!
Swindon’s Charity Hub.
After working for a local charity and seeing first-hand the impact that new General Data Protection Regulations had and the effects of the Covid pandemic, I created Swindon’s Charity Hub. By doing this I could use my digital marketing skills to support charities that help the people of Swindon, by helping them to reach more people online.
I add charities to the hub with their permission and then promote their charity showcase page on the We Are Swindon social media channels. Ongoing support is given by sharing their content, adding news and events to the Positive Swindon News and Events Hub. I also support local people who are fundraising for charities where I can help them boost and smash their targets.
Online and going viral.
We Are Swindon now has a very popular website filled with positivity about our town. We are very active on social media; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more recently, TikTok.
My love and enthusiasm for my town help me to continuously create new content and keep up with the fast-changing social media world. Because of this, the campaign keeps reaching and engaging with thousands and thousands of local people. We’re now using that reach to help promote small businesses and charities in Swindon during a very hard year.
Swindon – What’s not to love?
I love living in Old Town with my family. We have the wonderful Town Gardens and Lawn Woods (a personal favourite of mine) on our doorstep and our children go to a great school. It’s easy for me to get anywhere in the town to take photos or do filming and we’re able to share our lives with our friends and family who also live here. What’s not to love?
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