Print applauds The Crown Pub as it hits major milestone

At times of trial and tribulation, it is invariably community, friends and family pulling together that sees us through. The immense value of that spirit of togetherness has certainly shone through at The Crown Pub, which on March 25th will celebrate opening its doors for exactly one year.

There has been laughs aplenty over the last 12 months, as well as moments of high drama and shared emotion. All of it has been overseen by the team at Vpress that came up with the idea for a virtual pub to provide an informal, fun and professional space for the print industry to come together.

“As it got harder and harder to meet face to face – before becoming impossible during the first lockdown – we came up with the concept of having a virtual pub to talk about the issues of the day. Once a week we come to The Crown Pub to have a friendly chat with our industry friends who are leaders, influencers and have the sharpest minds in UK printing,” says Kelvin Bell, Sales Director at Vpress. “It has not been about selling Web to Print but more about togetherness in a time of need.”

There have been many hundreds that have ‘walked’ into The Crown, but each week there has also been its regulars that have held court while experts in a wide-variety of fields have provided focussed advice sessions on everything from how to improve your social media skills, through to environmental debates and insights on critical industry trends.

A force for good

If the reaction to The Crown Pub on social media has been anything to go by, it really has struck a chord and become a valuable time every week where attendees from around the world can decompress and take time out of their busy schedules.

“The Crown Pub, I can’t believe another week has come and gone and it’s Pub time again. Looking forward to seeing everyone and the conversation. Cheers.” – Warren Werbitt Founder, Reel Motion Consulting. Canada

“This is an excellent initiative and very worthwhile from both an educational and networking point of view.” – Brendan Perring, General Manager IPIA and Chairman BAPC. U.K.

Nigel Cliffe, your LinkedIn session was so totally worth it! Thank you for sharing your LinkedIn knowledge, energy, passion – and humour. You are the REAL DEAL!” – Joanna Gore North America

When some of the Crown regulars were asked just what it has meant to them, their comments have highlighted how much we benefit from pulling together at times of challenge.

Mark Stephenson, Product Manager – Digital Printing and Press Systems, Fujifilm Europe says: “There has been a real benefit for our industry in having The Crown Pub.

“The pros are the great people I’ve met in the pub: Some old friends (and rivals), some faces and names I’ve managed to link together for the first time and some people who became acquaintances that developed into friends.

“The great things I’ve learned: Not only from some of the guest landlords and ladies who have volunteered to share their expertise but also from people who join from all parts of the print industry and come up with some fantastic gems of wisdom.

“It’s helped me survive lockdown: I’m not sure I’d have made it this far without something to look forward to like The Crown Pub. Nothing goes into my calendar after 3.30pm on Thursday. A massive thank you to everyone who has made this event such an oasis.

“There is only one con: After 100 sessions Kelvin Bell has still not bought anyone a drink.”

A valuable resource

Paul Stead, Commercial and Industrial Print Sales at Automated Systems Group, was also effusive in his praise: “The Crown Pub was simply a work of pure genius by Vpress.  What a fantastic and easy way to keep people talking through a very difficult time. Some of the speakers have been truly inspirational, whilst others (all) have provided many nuggets of information that have served my own learning needs.

“It has been a pleasure sharing time with a few old friends and meeting so many new industry contacts, albeit virtually.

“I am really looking forward to spending time with the regulars, in a proper pub, elbow on the bar, pickled egg in hand and a pint of beer, paid for by Kelvin. It must be his round by now…”

Another important facet of The Crown Pub has been the open sharing of information, advice and consultancy, which Elizabeth Bowerman – Head of UK Sales at Stephen Austin and Sons – has found particularly valuable.

“Vpress has to be commended for this concept, they didn’t have to create The Crown, it is a generous initiative, they are extending their organisational network to the rest of us,” says Elizabeth, who adds: “Learning has been a really important aspect, new technologies, new equipment and new ideas and it has been really, really good.

“When Nigel Cliffe did his dedicated session on LinkedIn, I found it particularly useful, and it was highly relevant to my day-to-day work.”

Elizabeth continues: “It has also been really beneficial in terms of making connections with international regulars, as well as for specialist subjects, that has also really helped and been very useful – especially at a time when we can’t go out to events where we would normally make these contacts.

“Everyone is happy to share, and openly collaborate to make the best out of what has been a really challenging year for our industry.

“There has been a lot of time when there have been some big personalities at The Crown, but I have never felt unable to get my point across. It has been very well managed by the team at Vpress. But…what I really need to know is when Kelvin will actually buy us a physical drink?”

Open to all

While The Crown landlord may have racked up a pretty hefty tab of drinks that he owes his regulars, what they can call agree on is that some quick thinking and open-heartedness from the team at Vpress led to an initiative that has delivered immense value and assistance to those who have propped up the bar at The Crown over the last year.

With that in mind, the last word must go to Lucy Swanston, Managing Director of Nutshell Creative Marketing: ‘What a great initiative the Vpress team have consistently delivered over this last year. The Crown has been a source of inspiration with its interesting speakers, informal atmosphere and some lively topics. It’s been the closest we could get to raising a glass and staying connected with old industry friends and new. Thank you Vpress – look forward to a live Crown pub meet up. Question is…who will get the first round in?!’

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