June 3, 2020 @ 15:19 by Chloe Holmes
After seven years waking up the region as co-host on Heart North East’s award-winning breakfast show, Justin Lockwood approached a new dawn with a mixture of hope and trepidation.
In May 2019 one of the region’s most recognisable voices presented his final show with Kelly Scott following Global Radio’s contentious decision to nationalise many of its prime-time programmes.
But if Justin’s career had reached a crossroads then standing still was never an option.
“I’ve been working in the media for 25 years so it made sense to stick with what I know,” he says.
“I’ve spent my life deciding what makes a good story and what’s of interest to the listener so a move into PR and marketing seemed like the next logical step.
“I decided it was time to help small businesses make their presence felt in the media.”
Twelve months down the line and the Sony Award-winning presenter is celebrating his first anniversary as Managing Director of PR firm You To Media.
For the last six weeks Justin has been the face of GiveToLocal’s hugely popular daily giveaways with one lucky family set to win the trip of a lifetime to Disney World Florida this week.
And the sports-mad Yorkshireman is loving his time with a Tyneside-based organisation committed to breathing new life into community sport clubs and small businesses in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
“It’s been a real joy working with the team at GiveToLocal and seeing so much positivity as a result of their 21 Days Of Giveaways initiative,” adds Justin.
“Every night for the last few weeks I’ve been recording a video for their Facebook page and encouraging clubs across the UK to get involved.
“There have been cash and kit giveaways but the big one was the trip to Disney World Florida for a family of four.
“The winners are announced this week and it’s great to see GiveToLocal doing what they can to lift everyone’s spirits at such a challenging time.”
Justin is a familiar face on the North East’s grassroots football scene as son Alfie continues to make his mark at Cramlington Juniors.
“He’s been at the club for almost 10 years now and it’s a fantastic environment,” he adds. “I host the club’s annual awards night and it’s always a great reminder of the value of grassroots football.
“Cramlington caters for everyone. The club continues to develop top talent with several players going on to win professional contracts. But it’s also about creating a sense of community.”
Prior to lockdown Justin continued to host the matchday entertainment at Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons with his professional pitch side approach familiar to thousands of supporters at St James’s Park and Kingston Park.
And with the Premier League finally set to return later this month, the adopted Geordie admits he’s missed his sporting fix.
“I’m looking forward to the day when St James’s is packed to the rafters and you hear the end of the drums on Local Hero before a massive roar,” admits Justin.
“I don’t think anyone expected sport to be away for so long and I know the prospect of full houses is still a long way off.
“But even the slow trickle of returning sports is a boost and especially for a place like the North East where sport is such a passion.
“When football does return – albeit behind closed doors – I’m hoping it will be like watching it for the first time. I’ll take it in any form I can get it right now!”
Sport – and football – is never far from Justin’s thoughts. He even describes his first PR ‘win’ as like ‘scoring a hat-trick on my debut’.
“I set up You To Media after I was encouraged by a friend of mine who’d set up InHouse Inspired Room Design in Hexham,” explains Justin.
“They had a really innovative approach to importing European brands and they struck me as a genuine North East success story.
“It became the lead item on Tyne Tees and went all over the place.
“I’ve now got six clients and I’m continuing to focus on smaller businesses that don’t necessarily have in-house PR and marketing support.
“Many of these firms just don’t realise that what they’re doing is newsworthy and out of the ordinary. It’s my job to highlight what they’re doing best and to make sure that the word gets out there!”
Joining GiveToLocal’s Tyneside-based team is an added bonus but Justin is keen to foster a mutually beneficial relationship as the national organisation continues to revolutionise fundraising within community sport.
“I met their CEO, Neil Gardiner, at the Northumberland Football League dinner in March and he explained the concept,” he adds.
“A few weeks later he called me and asked whether I’d be able to help out with the 21 Days Of Giveaways videos.
“I’ve never stopped since! It’s been a fantastic experience and I’m excited to discover what’s next for GiveToLocal.”
Connect with Justin via LinkedIn
For more information on GiveToLocal and to discuss corporate opportunities email Corporate Relationship Manager David Broom via firstname.lastname@example.org