Creative industry crowns top freelancers

Eight creatives have won the client-dazzling title ‘Freelancer of the Year’ having proved that their independent work for UK plc has been exemplary.

Their unparalleled contributions of services, including PR, marketing, design and editorial, have enriched outfits in major sectors like healthcare, IT and aviation.

The most impressive of all was from Anna Cowie, a freelance designer, who was crowned both Design Freelancer of the Year, and the overall Freelancer of 2008.

Judges enlisted by awards founder Xchangeteam, said her work developing the brand experience concept for Emirates’ staff headquarters won her the titles convincingly.

Commended areas of her role included creating a rationale from the client brief, delivering unique concepts and being highly responsive to the creative director.

Her desire to learn on the project also impressed the client, as did her commitment, teamwork and creativity, which visitors to Emirates’ staff HQ can now see on display.

“I never see creativity as a job,” Ms Cowie told FreelanceUK yesterday. “I love what I do so giving passion and energy to it comes easy to me.”

Like the seven other victors, her submission to the awards saw off more than 300 other freelancers all claiming to be, or nominated as, the best consultant in their field.

The judging panel, staffed by industry captains, said they looked for the key traits of successful freelancers – flexibility, creativity, insight, discipline and value adding.

They voted Nicholas Ridley the Digital Freelancer of the Year, for working with “great variety” as the lead digital designer of an application for Facebook.

As well as giving a new social dimension to the online network, his work involved directing video, designing the interface and compositing the effects in a short space of time.

Much more niche an outfit but also with a societal focus is Bowel Cancer UK, which saw its campaigns guru Ian Beaumont crowned the Public Affairs Freelancer of 2008.

He was praised for pioneering a “brave new style” of campaigning, enabled by sound media relations, third party advocates and the strategic use of powerful case studies.

For creating a similarly “high impact” media campaign which boosted her client’s image and sparked a national debate, the PR Freelancer of the Year went to Vicki Rimmer.

Her work for the Spelling Society generated it unprecedented interest from the media, gifting it today a “strong PR legacy on which the society can continue to build.”

The awards’ judges added that this same long-term benefit to the client was provided by another freelancer – Jayne Barr, a marketing consultant for Leigh Thomas.

Barr’s contract only lasted a few months, but her internal management skills and high end marketing nouse offered long-lasting rewards, winning her Marketing Freelancer of 2008.

Alex Goldberg is another freelancer who was hired for just a few weeks, though the length of his freelance advertising contract quadrupled once his client saw his work.

His creative concept is now in public view and the Advertising Freelancer of the Year won praise for dedication and enthusiasm for the task, backed up by hard work.

Meanwhile, Gill Harley, a freelancer who went “above and beyond” her client’s expectations, won ‘Editorial Freelancer of the Year,’ for sound analysis and tight writing.

Elsewhere, the Events Freelancer of 2008 went to Kristine Regan, who independently managed the Olympic hospitality program for 1,000 guests of Omega at the Beijing Olympics.

Bringing the program back from behind schedule, Regan worked across time zones and took a holistic view of the event; was highly flexible and arranged an exclusive level of activities.

Reflecting on why the awards matter, Xchangeteam’s managing director Mike Berry said they provided an “important window” on the capabilities and ambitions of creative freelancers.

Company founder Emma Brierley has said they give freelancers – UK plc’s “unsung heroes” – some much-needed recognition, as too often their high-risk assignments go unacknowledged.


5th March 2009

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