Sunday, December 24, 2006

Have a Good Christmas Readers!

Well, as sure as Santa's sleigh bells will soon be heard from above, this is going to be the last blog entry for a few days.

So Morgan PR would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Keep the comments coming and see you in 2007 - if we don't blog before that.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Letting the Passengers Take the Strain

Who says you cannot do a U-turn on railway tracks? Passenger power has prompted First Great Western to announce it is reviewing the timetable it introduced less than two weeks ago.

Odd that people would object to being treated like livestock or left abandoned on freezing train platforms waiting hours for a connection that used to come in minutes.

The train rarely suits my professional journeys - and to be honest since axing that late service from Paddington and through Reading and Newbury it rarely suits full stop! However, something I have observed first hand is the way that failing to staff those late services is an excellent way to show how little they appear to be used. After all, if you do not collect any fares from passengers on these services, they quickly become inefficient and easy to axe.

In the last few years I did catch the training into Reading from Hungerford a few times; with no ticket machine at Hungerford I would board the train prepared to buy one - but discover there was no ticket collector. So anyone getting on at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham Theale - or Newbury if they were smart enough not to buy a ticket - would only have to pay when they reached Reading. Little wonder many would claim to have ridden only from Theale. The last stop and the cheapest journey.

Services to Theale were increased in the review of services!

So now the axed late service, together with a host of others changed with little regard to passengers, will be reviewed and some will no doubt be reinstated. For what? More bad PR than any company would want and I suspect will taint First Great Western for many years to come.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Morgan PR on The Best of Newbury

When I decided to use e-Christmas Cards as a way to donate some money to charity I really did not know how much interest and support it would generate, but it certainly has - I have made more appointments today with contacts who we sufficiently motivated by my e-card to get in touch and book some time.

I'm also thrilled to say it has earned me some more publicity too - and when you are a PR company (and some!) that certainly helps! The above appeared today on The Best of Newbury and if you click on the image it will take you straight to the page - enjoy!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Morgan PR and the Virtual Christmas Card

Well Morgan PR's charitable gesture hit cyberspace this weekend and I am still emailing out batches but already the replies are coming back in raving about my ingenuity, together with nice words about the services we have provided throughout the year.

Interestingly, a couple have even sought to book appointments for January too, which is something that never happened with traditional cards. They rarely evoke a comment, let alone concrete appointments to discuss business!

So leaving aside the £200 donation I shared between the Motor Neurone Disease Association and The Newbury Weekly News Over 80s Christmas Parcel Fund, which does leave me with a warm cosy glow in my tummy, or the minimal carbon footprint from emailing my virtual cards to people (assuming they do not feel obliged to print them out!), it made good business sense too!

I felt particularly proud of the reply I received from Adrian Smith, the Group Commercial Director of The Swift Group of Companies in Newbury: Particularly this: "E-Cards…. A very sound idea, no less however than I would expect. Thanks for your input and support earlier this year, the piece you wrote had a positive effect on our business and I look forward to further profile enhancing pieces in the coming months."

Anyway, more cards to email!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Will Blogging Really Peak in 2007?

The BBC led with a dubious story yesterday, quoting technical 'gurus' Gartner as saying blogging will peak next year... Really?

As many blogs as there are out there, I cannot honestly believe that they are going to doing anything but continue to blossom. Some will flare and then die, like an ill-lit match in a thunderstorm, but others will flourish and become essential components of our every more personalised web experience.

Also, surely as technology advances we will simply migrate on to every more advanced versions of blogging. I already know how to post a blog entry from my mobile telephone (Admittedly I have had no requirement to do this!) and presumably the technology already exists for me to post a video entry too. Any future development of the blogging environment will encourage more people to lauch their own and leave others playing catch up or making the most of thoroughly established technology. Sort of belated adopters.

Before you get carried away and admire my foresight, the Internet Psychologist, Graham Jones has been saying much the same on his own blog and a quick Google search reveals that many are dismissing the story.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Refreshing Approach to Selling Homes

Among a host of interviews and meetings today I spent an refreshing hour with Paul Crickett, the Operations Manager at Cricketts, an estate agency in Newbury.

As some may have seen in today's Newbury Property News, Cricketts is some four years old and has always enjoyed a good reputation in the town, not least due to the warmth and enthusiasm of its founder, Kath Crickett and no doubt the unique charms of my former Thames Valley Police colleague Bill Crickett. However, success had brought its own challenges and this is where Paul joined his parents.

With a background in recruitment (he found the UK managers for MSN Hotmail and Xbox) he fully understood the need for the business to become more corporate in order to better support its ever growing number of customers. However, he equally understood how to gently introduce the systems that would facilitate the friendly approach of the Cricketts team, without stifling them with a blanket of corporate nonsense.

Visitors to the town will have noticed the refurbishment to the bricks and mortar and online visitors will marvel at the clicks and mortar - Cricketts new website is the most intuitive and approachable website I have seen an estate agency offer.

With a new image, new branding, all new offices and the same great team, one suspects Cricketts are going to enjoy 2007!

You can probably tell this is one of those interviews that is a real joy to write up!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Early Rewards from Profit Club

We got down to business at the first proper meeting of the Faringdon/Swindon Profit Club earlier today and already it has got the creative juices flowing and focused my mind on working on Morgan PR rather than simply in Morgan PR.

Our erstwhile Business Guru come coach, Sally Rainbow Ockwell, was brimming with her infectious enthusiasm as she explained how we could get the most from our membership of Profit Club and stressed our committment was the key to success.

There is this wonderful synergy between members that is free of that competitive edge that so often creeps into other networking events. People offer advice and ecouragement and share how they have handled a situation that somone else might be tackling for the first time.

In addition to the fortnightly lunchtime meetings, there is also a monthly Business Skills Training workshop - this is a two hour evening session, between 6pm and 8pm and the next will be on January 10th at the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway. If anyone would like to come as a guest please contact me - it will be about planning for 2007, so should be useful for everyone!

Neatly that comes just before the 90 Day Planning Workshop at Newbury Racecourse on 24th January. So my business strategy is coming together... is yours?

You can get an instant indication of what is working and what is not from Sally by clicking here and sign up here if you would like to receive her free monthly newsletter.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Charity Christmas Gesture from Morgan PR

This afternoon I have been putting the finishing touches to the email Christmas cards Morgan PR will soon be sending out to clients and contacts alike.

I have even had a few impatient emails from restless (optimistic wannabe receipients no doubt) readers who are anxiously awaiting their emailed Christmas greeting from Morgan PR.

As the story that featured in last week's edition of The Advertiser and the current edition of the Newbury Business News, explained, I decided to give the money I would normally spend on printing and posting out Christmas cards to charity.
Here you can read in this cutting from the Newbury Business News I chose to split the money between the Newbury Weekly News Over 80s Christmas Parcel Fund and the local branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Now, as I pick heavy, corporate cards up from my doormat each day, I am left wondering why companies feel the need to splash out on such luxurious missives? Even if they include a donation, surely email is the way to go? I've had a few email cards already without any link to a donation being made with the savings, but I am still happy to receive them. Each one is one less card I will need to recycle come 2007.

The Virtual Office Secretary in The Sunday Times!

I've just had an excited telephone call from The Virtual Office Secretary Sarah Rhoads who is on a very real hunt for a copy of yesterday's:

Rumours abound that her succesful business had been mentioned, but she was after the evidence. Despite being more of an 'Observer' kinda guy I was able to jump online and search the Times newspapers' website and lo - the rumours were true.

Matthew Wall had written a article entitled: 'Home in on a Better Lifestyle' which focused on the benefits of working from home with some essential web addresses for companies wanting to project a professional image... and he namechecks The Virtual Office Secretary!

Specifically he writes: "For more ad hoc secretarial services, such as organising mailshots and invoicing, the award-winning Virtual Office Secretary ( charges from £18 an hour."

How superb is that? We now wait to discover just how lucrative that mention may be for Sarah and her business. Oh yes, and if anyone has a copy of yesterday's Sunday Times...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Breakfast with Champions

I'm not convinced the normally insomniac birds in search of the fabled first worm were up when I ventured out this morning - but there were some dynamic business people motivated by more than the opportunity to enjoy a cooked breakfast.

I was technically the guest of Mia Drennan - but it was notable just how many people around the table had previously tried to tempt me to this early morning gathering. There were even more whom I had already met.

There was a delicious informality to The Newbury Business Group meeting, which lends itself to the building of relationships that will truly deliver quality referrals, rather than the risk people will feel compelled to provide a referral and offer a less than concrete lead over the fried eggs.

Mia, freshly promoted by yesterday's article and due to give a presentation on the work of Square Mile Connections, found her distinctive and easly adapted name worked into almost all the members one minute presentations. Mine was a rather feeble 'Meerkat' play on Mia, but some of the others were truly inventive. Others were truly awful!

I also managed to pick up some early stories for the January edition of the Newbury Business News and some leads for Morgan PR. So it was definitely worth that early start.

I could find myself being tempted out into the dark mornings a bit more often for this breakfast with champions.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

From Wall Street to Kings Road West

That was the headline on 'The Interview' with Mia Drennan in the Newbury Business News, published today and that article has paved the way to a blossoming array of opportunities to work with Mia in both her capacity as Managing Director of Square Mile Connections and in her role as the European President of the Transatlantic Business Council.

I met with Mia this afternoon, together with the Global CEO of the Council, John Baldwin and Square Mile's Recruitment Director, Nicola Ogston for a strategic planning session to determine the best way to promote both Mia's own business and the role of the Transatlantic Business Council. The two neatly overlap and there is much scope to promote them both.

Essentially the TBC exists to encourage and facilitate UK companies seeking to foster business links in the Tri-State area of New York, and equally any US companies seeking to set up here in the UK.

The productive meeting was adjourned to the amiable atmosphere of the Lock, Stock & Barrel, off Northbrook Street, where we met up with Square Mile Non-Executive Director, Rob Thomas, from Newbury Building Society and the meeting neatly transformed into a social occasion.

I shall be seeing Mia and John again in the morning, bright and early for the breakfast meeting of the Newbury Business Group at the Donnington Valley Golf Club.

Small But So Perfectly Formed

One of the many things I love about working in Public Relations is the diverse range of clients it brings me into contact with and equally the myriad of businesses, products and personalities I must adapt my skills to promote.

After all, I would never have imagined myself plotting strategies to raise awareness about a fabulous range of clothes for the petite woman or indeed the petite fashion designer and image consultant behind Dresscode UK.

I am indebted to Sarah Rhoads, The Virtual Office Secretary, for introducing me to Karen Gillam earlier this year. While only a 5' 2" tall in her bare feet, Karen is larger than life and one of those inspired and driven individuals that are so much fun to work with.

Sarah and I met earlier today with Karen to review the successes that we have enjoyed gaining promotional articles on the series of roadshows that Karen embarked on to promote her Capsule range of clothing over the last few months. It was interesting to note it was the glossy magazines that newspapers so often see as a accessory to their news stables, that were so successful at whipping up interest.

The next step was to look at ways that we can take the fashion business forward- and promote Karen's tremendous skills as an image consultant, for both corporate and invidual clients. A good PR never tells, but we were all buzzing with excitement with the different ideas that we came up with and how best to implement them.

Karen is also one of the speakers chosen to give a key address at the Berkshire Business Show on the 14th and 15th of February next year at Newbury College, so readers of this blog can check out her guru abilities then - not to mention mine as a fellow speaker!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Spit or Swallow?

Here you can see the most dedicated members of the West Berkshire Business Club, who battled through a calendar laden deep with seasonal invitations, to enjoy a Christmas wine tasting event earlier this evening.

The wise wine expert Ian Campbell, founder of Church House Vitners, was on hand to guide us through a eclectic selection of 10 wines.

We were asked to score everything from 1 to 5 and it soon became clear that we all had differing tastes and while the cost did tend to win over more fans for a particular vintage, it was by no means the deciding factor when members picked there favourites and placed orders in time for Christmas.

I chose a white and a red in modest quantities; the white was a 2005 Kelly's Farwell Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc from Western Australia - which neatly sits with my wine list practice of choosing wines from regions I've visted! However, I was also seduced by a 2005 Norte Chico Merlot from Chile. Quite possibly the first Chilean wine I have knowingly drunk, it was perky and full of berries, liquorice and deep too. And only half the price of the Argentinian 2004 Don David Reserve Malbec that won far more fans among the group.

Ian Campbell was a knowledgable guy and explained how much he enjoys finding wines to suit his clients taste and wallets, and certainly from the fans he won this evening he should be getting orders now and in the new year too!

It was a very enjoyable evening and I was delighted to have tried so many wines without actually consuming much at all. Certainly I was not at risk of drink driving!

The evening had begun with chairman Steve Mills, of Max Marketing, asking for us each to give a business tip; before offering his own. He urged those of us who bill clients monthly to consider switching to a four week cycle - instantly boosting revenue with that 13th payment each year.

I was up next and warned people who pay for services monthly to watch out for businesses trying to migrate you on to a four week cycle to boost their revenue!

Actually, my genuine tip was to maintain your blog!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Newbury Networking

For almost two years now I have been a member of Newbury Networking - a somewhat informal alternative to traditional networking, originally set up by a break away faction of BNI!

The group meets on Tuesday evenings - itself an alternative to the breakfast meetings that are so tricky for working parents - and visitors and guests are always welcome from 6.30pm for a 7pm start in the function room at The Traveller's Friend in Crookham Common. Incidentally, the pub currently has a four foot tall, guitar playing, carol singing, motion activated Santa that bursts into song as you enter. More than 30 seconds and you will be ready to destroy it!

Anyway, earlier this evening I attended what was my penultimate meeting and handed in my resignation. Nevertheless I was still asked to step in as chair, but had to decline as I needed leave early for another committment.

Shame really, it would have been fun to see if I copped as much flak as the group traditionally directs at the chair! I am sure it must stun some visitors; the ribaldry can be intense and probably exclusive as it often refers to running jokes.

For me it has proven a gentle introduction into the exciting world of networking, and one where the only pressure to make referrals was simply the pressure you put on yourself. A combination of factors have prompted me to step down - not least how hard I find it to attend every week and not being there is not fair on the group or guests - or someone who does have the time to attend every week.

I had been there with my web design hat on as the very name of the company: Morgan PR, tended to hint at some of the other services I might be able to offer. I've made some good friends there and was genuine when I said I would call back as a guest in the future or maybe offer the education slot on something PR.

The guests last night were Tony Ward and Neil Murphy from Armchair Answercall Ltd, an Andover company offer virtual receptionist and answering services, together with call centre facilities. In a particularly polished marketing move, Neil handed out proposal documents for each member. Simply a personalised front sheet in a bound brochure, but very impactive and complimented his presentation. Which infuriatingly (for him too no doubt) I had to leave half way through!

So any networkers who fancy a night out rather than an early morning should consider Newbury Networking and give them a try. I'm more than happy to introduce anyone.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Bear Necessities

Mixing business with pleasure may have had a bad press, for last night we spent the evening with friends made through business and it was certainly a pleasure!

Diane and I met up with Graham Chapple and Karen Holmes, respectively the powerhouses behind Garden4You and The Best of Newbury, at The Bear Hotel in Hungerford.

Ah the joy of spending an evening in such terrific and entertaining company while attentive staff bring excellent food to the table. Karen and Graham are good fun and manage that essential blend of being motivated and relaxed at the same time.

I also learned that my portrait that was featured in The Best Of and Breathe Pictures exhibition last month is set to go on tour and will shortly be appearing at the Madagascan Gin Palace in Newbury. Which has some delicious serendipity about it considering I have frequented the restaurant since it first opened.

Back to The Bear, I would urge anyone who hasn't been there recently to make the effort. Since it was taken over by Considered Hotels it was become an outstanding venue with a modern, cosmopolitan bar beneath its ancient beams.

The restaurant too is a delight and has tables spread at that optimum distance that they offer both privacy and eavesdropping potential in equal measure. Sadly, it never seems as busy as it deserves considering the food is both excellent and reasonably priced. As a fan of game the menu never disappoints at this time of year. However if it is on the menu you must choose the chateau briand; this superlative cut of beef is cooked to perfection and melts in the mere vicinity of the mouth. Perfect!

For the future sake of The Bear I only hope it does a roaring trade among discerning business travellers during the week and that will continue to offer superior eating to us locals in the evening.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Drink OR Drive. Just Choose One

My one time employers Thames Valley Police today launched their annual Christmas Anti drink drive campaign with what I think is a pretty lack lustre poster for such a crucial issue.

This is the TVP poster, which frankly looks more like an advert for something you might find on CBeebies than something that will deter the casual Christmas drink driver, let alone the hardcore who insist that they can handle it.

At least it is promoting the choice that I have always found obvious: you either drink or you drive. Like grape and grain, you should never mix. To be honest I have always absolutely adhered to this rule - the drink or drive rule, I've often mixed grape and grain - and would choose between the two before I was legally entitled to do either! (Ah, the joys of growing up with acres of farmland to keep me busy!).

To be honest the Government's main seasonal gesture in the same direction has involved merely laying Cliff Richard's 'Mistletoe & Wine' and the 1970s Roy Wood & Wizard hit 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day' over an anti drink drive television advert from 2004. You'll recall it because it etches itself on the memory - three guys in the pub, one tries half-heartedly to decline a second drink before their pub table slams into a pretty girl in a car like fashion. It effectively showed you become a drink driver in the pub.

Part of me suspects they have stuck with the advert because it is so effective. Then again, everyone must have seen it by now and thus those already ignoring are unlikely to pay attention because it has a Christmas tune attached.

It is all correctly intentioned. Professionally I have seen the impact of drink driving many times and it is never pretty. The stats are horrific: On average 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in drink drive collisions and nearly one in six of all deaths on the road involved drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit.

Remember these anti drink drive posters from Christmasses past?

Either of these is still far more impactive than the effort at the top of the page: These make you stop and think and if nothing else admire how clever they are!

And how about this retro advice from 1982 - even then the idea of choosing between drinking or driving was an option!

Clearly neither was the idea of a pint of lager in a straight jar!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Look Into My Eyes, Only Into My Eyes...

The humble hypnotherapist has a bad press courtesy of dodgy stage acts that have grown men thinking they are dogs and of course the Little Britain character, Kenny Craig, who has had so many parroting his lines (or using them in blog titles):

"Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around my eyes, look into my eyes... You're under!."

Fortunately the reality is much more refreshing and there are some professionals out there who transform people's lives with their skilled use of hypnotherapy; a million miles from those stage shows and TV parodies.

This morning I have been writing about one such heroine: Anne Thomson. I've been lucky enough to know Anne since long before she completed her exhaustive training and have been writing about her practice, Mindset Hypnotherapy, for almost two years now.

Advanced Hypnotherapy is the Aston Martin of such therapies. Rather than papering over the cracks and merely tackling the symptoms - which is all conventional hypnotherapy does - she uses Advaced Hypnotherapy to talk to your subconscious and discovers the reason behind the behaviour you want to change and then addresses it at that level.

I have spent time chatting to the people whose lives she has changed and even know some of them personally so have witnessed the long term benefits of their treatment.

Anne actually helped me with some advanced hypnotherapy when I found myself less than enthusiastic about a belated operation to have my tonsils out during the summer of last year. I made her work for it though! Together we discovered I have "the balshiest sub conscious ever", and I have to agree I was less than helpful!

Professionally we have reached that blissful stage where I believe I truly understand her business and what she is trying to achieve and consequently can produce copy that has consistently driven new clients to her practice. Combined with referrals she has created a very successful business.

Personally she is a blast! Partly because once we have determined a particular theme for an article, our meetings descend into hilarity and we generally disrupy whatever establishment we have alighted upon. Our conspiratorial laughter turns many a head.

So with Christmas approaching and the New Year taunting you with a plethora of short term resolutions you will half-heartedly attempt to maintain, stop and think of the extra help that Anne could give you in achieving those goals and contact her here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Found: Blogging Tips that Really Help!

I have fond a terrific blog that will be embraced by those of you who find this whole blogging malarkey a challenge at times.

Visit Copyblogger and read his hugely helpful posting 'The Five Essential Elements of an Influencial Blog' It is just one of a plethora of articles aimed squarely at those of us trying to grow our presence in the blogosphere and I'm learning plenty from it, which must surely tell you something!

Copyblogger is an American guy, Brian Clark, and he has been doing this since the days when we all thought Amazon was either a big river in South America or a mythical warrior race of women. So he does know what he is talking about!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Networking... But not as we Know it!

The launch of the Faringdon and Swindon Profit Club was an entertaining affair and promises to be inspirational in the coming months I am sure.

Admittedly I already knew I was joining, but Sally Rainbow-Ockwell did a fantastic sales pitch on all the benefits of Profit Club and would have tempted me and certainly seemed to tempt plenty of the assembled guests too.

The event was held at the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway - remarkably only 23 miles from Morgan PR's headquarters here in Hungerford, and much of that route across the Lambourn Downs and provided a good excuse to pop in and see my Mum!

The Profit Club will meet here on the first and third Tuesday lunchtime of each month and then the second and fourth Tuesday lunchtimes it will meet at the Basepoint Business Centre in Swindon. Once a month there is also a two hour coaching session on a Tuesday evening that builds on the coaching component of the Club's regular meetings. All this neatly dovetails with the quarterly 90 Day Planning Seminars that have so helped my approach to business.

It was a joy to meet so many like minded - and one or two not at all like minded - individuals, but perhaps the most inspirational was Maggie Gill, who works for the Prospect Hospice, and was there for the announcement that this Profit Club would be donating 5% of its proceeds to the hospice.

We had a good chat and I was thrilled to be able to offer so PR advice and services for free, in a gesture of support for the organisation and its remarkable work. First point of business will be a release promoting the generosity of Sally's Profit Club and targeting that at the Swindon and other Wiltshire media.

The Managing Director of Swindon-based TransXL International Ltd, Jon Napper was a friendly guy, there with a colleague, another John. Refreshing to see a clearly successful business entertaining the notion that there is still something to learn.

We were paired together for a warm up exercise: asked to stand adjacent to one another, but facing in opposite directions, we gripped hands as if to shake as instructed, but were then told we could win a point for each time we pulled the other persons hand against our own hip. Naturally most people launched into competitive mode; we opted for co-operative and stepping closer merely oscillated our gripped hands between our hips and scored highly indeed.

I also met Andrew Chapman, founder of and someone who was recommended to me by Sally. Andrew has a comprehensive range of wines on offer at his website and also specialises in designing labels featuring a company logo and other associated merchandise from his premises in Drayton, Oxon. Certainly worth a visit if you were looking to thank anyone for exceptional PR this year! I'm revising my incentives in the New Year so will be speaking to Andrew more then.

As a Profit Club member I can bring along guests, so if any of my regular readers fancy finding out more, do let me know! Alternatively sign up to Sally's newsletter by clicking here.

Getting Ready to Join the Profit Club

Another busy day beckons and I am predicting the highlight will be the launch of a new Profit Club in Faringdon, that will serve a swathe of businesses from Oxford to Swindon.

I think that Profit Club is a real alternative to traditional networking and if the publicity we rustled up last week has worked it should draw in some of the most dynamic business professionals in the region.

Action International’s Profit Clubs are an exciting new development from the leading business coaching firm. Unlike traditional networking clubs where the focus is on getting referrals, Profit Club is designed to develop the business owner’s skills in a wide range of areas – including sales & marketing, finance, recruitment and team development.

Today's launch is being held at the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway. In the New Year, the group will split into two & the Swindon group will meet at Basepoint in West Swindon. In the New Year a group is set to open in Newbury and anyone from down this way will be able to switch to the new group.

The group will meet fortnightly for lunch & business development coaching. Key areas are covered in more detail at monthly training sessions, and the quarterly 90 Day Planning seminars for which many of you will know Action International.

I have attended two of the 90 Day Planning events and they are a superb way to get some first class advice from successful business professionals and to spend time on your business. They are also fantastic networking opportunities and all those businesses who go on the grow deserve good PR!

The cost of joining is less than £3 per day and this Profit Club has been founded by Action International's Sally Rainbow-Ockwell, a very talented coach who continues to introduce me to some wonderful clients.

Talking to Sally, she believes that with over 80% of small businesses failing in their first 5 years, it’s vital that business owners get the help & support that they need.

She said: "Programmes like Dragons’ Den & The Apprentice have encouraged people to follow an entrepreneurial route – it all seems very glamorous! The reality is that most small business owners work long hours for limited reward."

(I cheekily thought you might like to spend some of that reward on these related books!)

Sally continued after my marketing interlude: “It can also be a very lonely existence. Profit Club helps them to develop the wide range of skills they need in order to build successful businesses. At the same time it also provides a supportive team, a ‘board of advisors’, usually beyond their reach.”

Visit the blog later today for a report and photographs from the launch. In the meantime you can get an instant indication of what is working and what is not from Sally by clicking here and be sure to sign up here if you would like to receive her free monthly newsletter.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Berkshire Business Show - 14 & 15 February

I've been putting the finishing touches to copy for the Newbury Business News today, and not least has been finding out more about an exciting opportunity early next year.

The Berkshire Business Show is on the 14th and 15th February and is being hosted at Newbury College and is sponsored by the college and the Newbury Weekly News.

I have it on good authority that the 44 stand are selling fast so those who fancy a plot to ply their services should move fast. It is a thoroughly reasonable £650 for a stand that includes everything from furniture to signage - and the NWN is hosting a drinks evening for the delegates on the Thursday night.

There will be a dozen speakers spread over the two days and I have been asked to deliver one of those sessions - so suggestions as to what I should talk about should be left after this post! I'm leaning towards: 'How to Write a Killer Press Release' at the moment, but open to persuasion.

There is going to be lots of publicity for the event and over 1,000 visitors are expected to stop by during the two days and Kick FM will be broadcasting from the site both days.

So do let me know if you are going and be sure to write about the event on your blogs too!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Little Bit Alike... Yes Indeed!

Okay! I was challenged to produce photographic evidence on my 1980s similarity to sold out comedian Ben Elton.

Leaving aside the fact the person text messaged me after reading the last post when they should have left a comment, I have had a rummage in photograph files past and come up with this little gem... with a little licence from Photoshop...

I have also been accused (yes, accused) of looking like David Baddiel and 'that bloke off the lightening seeds'. And before you call, text, email or, heaven forbid, post a request - there will be no more photographic evidence.

Stand up comedy does appeal in my more fanciful moments! And I was crowned Jongleurs SMART Gagmeister of the Year 2005, a title that took us to the Just Pour Rire, Montreal Comedy Festival this summer. So maybe one day some poor soul with warped fashion sense will be ridiculed for looking 'a bit like that bloke from Morgan PR'.

A Little Bit of Politics... Yes Indeed!

What a week! I’ve been so busy that the raging torrent that was this mighty blogging adventure was in danger of meandering into scarcely babbling brook!

Still rumours have it that some of the blogs launched around the same time as Morgan PR and the Great Blogging Adventure have actually turned into the watercourse equivalent of an oxbow lake – and any veterans of ‘O’ Level Geography will remember what happens to an oxbow lake!

And what do you know! That educational metaphor has lead me neatly to talk about my life as a Community Governor at the John O’Gaunt Community Technology College – something that contributed to a busy deadline week for the December edition of the Newbury Business News! And a week where I produced three media strategies for new clients too!

I’ve been a school governor for over three years now and I cannot begin to describe how rewarding it is – well, actually I can and will: For me it is part of my ‘social contract’, and a way to offer something back to the community.

There is also the opportunity to operate at a strategic level within a large organisation. A school the size of John O’Gaunt is effectively an SME with all the issues that impact on most businesses – except our ‘products’ are children!

I am a former pupil of the school, but was invited to become a Community Governor after I delivered a media training package to the senior team at the school. My portfolio has grown and I currently chair the Curriculum and Assessment Sub-Committee, sit on the Personnel and PR Sub-Committees and I am a link Governor with responsiblity for English.

This week I was part of the team that made a presentation to West Berkshire Council to win the ‘Pathfinder’ money from central government to allow for an existing secondary school to be rebuilt.

I have to confess to being somewhat bewildered by the invitation to the top four schools to present ‘our case’ to West Berkshire Council. It seemed to me to be a token nod toward transparency and democracy after a comprehensive process had identified a school in Newbury as most suitable to be rebuilt.

Just consider; that process had firmly identified St. Bartholomew’s as the most suitable school in West Berkshire. However, the Executive insist that the decision has not been made and ask for a presentation. After which they choose St. Barts!

To be honest, if anyone else had been chosen I would have expected St. Barts to challenge it in the courts such was the weight of evidence! It seemed nonsense to suggest that the playing field was level by this stage.

Let’s hope that the Local Education Authority has heard what we need at John O’Gaunt and will spend and support us accordingly.

I was back at the school yesterday afternoon to meet and greet the candidates who have applied for the position of Assistant Head at John O'Gaunt; it was interesting to meet such an ambitious group of individuals.

However, the highlight for me was when one candidate seized upon my comment that I had been to the school and been in the last cohort to take 'O' Levels:

He offers: "You must be 42? 44? then?"
"No, I'm 36 in a week's time." I offer more cheerfully than I felt!
He scrabbled around to recover before another candidate told him to stop digging.

Fourty-four-years-old? Honestly!

As for the title of this post… another nod to the era of oxbow lake learning that you might recognise? He of the sparkling suits, bouffant hair and outsized glasses? (Actually sounds like me in the 80s!). Ben Elton! A little bit of politics... Yes, indeed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Madagascan Gin Palace Blog

The Madagascan Gin Palace has always been a mouth watering mouthful of a restaurant, commonly and affectionately referred to merely as 'The Gin Palace' it has long been the king of original eateries in West Berkshire among pretentious and often fleeting Johnny come and go latelies.

The originality of the concept of The Gin Palace, from its design to its constantly evolving world menu, has kept it at the forefront of people's choices for more than a decade and that is no mean feat when the majority of restaurants fail more quickly than Gordon Ramsey can verbally abuse a pastry chef into oblivion.

Keeping the appeal fresh and exciting is down to the founder Richard Hayman and I'm delighted to see that he has joined us trailblazers on in the dizzying realms of the Blogosphere. The Gin Palace Blog is sure to be as appetising as anything the restaurant serves.

I first met Richard when he was instrumental behind the bar in what was then Bruno's in Saddler's Court, Newbury. As a cub reporter he was deft at making me look incredibly influential when I would take press officers or visiting journalists there - and would be instinctively discrete if I arrived with someone I needed to interview.

I still recall the conversation in The Dolphin, just behind where The Gin Palace stands in Inch’s Yard, Newbury, when he first told me about this idea he had for a new restaurant…

So, do visit his blog and be sure to visit the restaurant too. The first 10 visitors to mention the ‘Blog Gift Voucher Offer’ when paying the bill will be given a £25 Madagascan Gift Voucher – the perfect gift for anyone who has yet to discover the delights of this venue – or anyone who already has!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gardening... Leave it to the Professionals!

A fellow blogger had me chuckling this morning and I had to share - check out Graham Chapple's blog for his blossoming business Garden4You - his account of slaving away during yesterday's torrential downpour (I opted for black coffee rather than venture the 50 yards to the shop for milk) is hilarious.

Once suspects you need a sense of humour to be making a successful career out of gardening this time of the year. What you certainly need is the kind of vision and committment that Graham has in spades (sorry, I'll try and trim back the gardening puns. Darn it; done it again!) and of course the can do attitude which is essential when faced with a garden where your client clearly didn't.

I'm writing about Graham for the December edition of the Newbury Business News (out on the 7th December) and you too will see how downright excited he is about doing a job that many of us see as a chore designed to interfere with the weekend! It is that very fact that makes his services so in demand.

Although reading his latest blog entry which he has dubbed 'Extreme Gardening' I wonder if he has any regrets telling me: "As for working outside, I love it. Having spent years sat in offices and cars travelling the length and breadth of the country, to be working outdoors all the time is great. With today's modern fabrics and clothing you are pretty much protected from the elements so it really doesn't matter to me."

Mmm... Really? I'm glad it mattered enough to blog about!

Friday, November 17, 2006

This Blogging Business

I found an interesting article on blogging in this week’s edition of The Economist that must surely offer hope to those of us who would like to see a return on our online missives.

Actually, I should point out that I succumbed to an invite for: ‘12 issues for £12’ and am not as pretentious as that intro made me sound! That said, I’ve been delightfully impressed by the magazine; and the last time I read it was as a student! You also get full access to their website and that has already proven a useful research tool.

Anyway, the magazine tells us that the majority of the 57 million blogs out there are simply diaries that happen to be online and make no effort to earn money from blogging. Only 7% of bloggers actually say they want to earn anything from their efforts.

The article explains that to date the blogs that are capturing any significant revenue are really niche magazines that use a blog to publish their material and have sufficient visitors to sustain advertising and consequently can afford to employ staff.

However, they have identified a new blogging phenomenon the ‘mom and pop blogs’ where those original diaries have actually provided the foundation for a successful business model.

The primary example is a blogger in Utah; Heather Armstrong blogs about her life in Salt Lake City and in the space of a year has attracted a readership in excess of 1 million and has elevated her to primary bread winner – who works seven hours a day admittedly – but her blog is now a successful small business!

Incidentally, the Google Adsense adverts that appear on this blog have already generated a meagre few pennies, as have the Amazon adverts that appeared a couple of days ago. So it does work!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Far From The Weakest Link

You need a good reason to turn on daytime television these days and those of you who saw my story about sausage maker Gerry Parsons on the front of today's Newbury Weekly News may have paused to watch The Weakest Link too.

The former Lambourn beat bobby turned sausage maker extraordinaire kept his cool in the face of the faux fierce presenter Ann Robinson earlier this evening to scoop an impressive £2,270, which he is giving to his grandchildren.

The profile Gerry has enjoyed since launching The Butchers Dog Sausage Company is testimony primarily to the outstanding quality of his homemade bangers, but also to why you should keep in touch with anyone you know in the media.

Gerry and I have know each other for many years, but he made the effort to get in touch as his business flourished and allowed me to exploit its potential for news. His appearance on The Weakest Link was a bonus - nothing to do with his business - but at the same time everything to do with his business. The photo used on page one of the Newbury Weekly, and inside was one I took of him brandishing a succulent string of sausages. It has been used again and again and every time underlines that The Butchers Dog Sausage Company is about quality.

When I write a media strategy for a client I always emphasise how what you do outside their organisation can have a terrific impact on their profile. Now Gerry might not be a client - rather I am a customer of his, but the logic holds true!

If you are a sausage slut, do mention me when you contact Gerry - I'm heading over to Lambourn soon to try his new game sausages - a combination of wild boar, venison, pheasant and rabbit. Game on!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management

Okay! People in glass houses... It seems like only last week and indeed the week before that I used this blog to bully my numerous friends and associates who had not been maintaining their blogging efforts... and guess who has fumbled the ball! Yes me!

Not dropped the ball you understand - merely talking about the possibility of dropping the ball in a post on this blog actually transforms the metaphor into a fumbling rescue! Clever eh?

When it takes so little time to keep a blog updated, being busy simply isn't an excuse. It is up there with the time I once claimed to be to busy to attend a time management course my employer wanted me to attend! The truth is the biggest incentive to manage your time effectively is running your own business - slack off and it is your bottom line that suffers.

That said, we could always do better and I was intrigued to read a glowing review of Mark Forster's latest book 'Do It Tomorrow... and Other Secrets of Time Management' in the Work section of a recent Saturday Guardian.

Forster has carved out a niche for himself with an original take on time management and has previously published 'Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play' and 'How to Make Your Dreams Come True'.

His latest book is an eye opener - in a refreshing way, not in a having your eyes lasered or Clockwork Orange kind of way - and I'm working my way through it with some significant early wins. For example, I love what I've dubbed 'To Don't' lists. Simply lists of the things you are not going to do. Actually easier to stick to than the typical 'To Do' list and by sticking to the 'To Don't' list you actually have more time for the 'To Do' list. Clever eh?

Forster genuinely, almost beguilingly teaches how to get a day's work done in a day. How not to be hijacked by the myriad of distractions that stake urgent claims on our valuable time. Perhaps best of all he actually explains how the technology we seem beholden to can work to our advantage!

In fact he gave me enough time to figure out how to use Amazon Associates so if you fancy 'Do It Tomorrow' or either of his other two books, the links are here and I will earn about enough for a finger of fudge from the corner shop if you follow my advice with your wallets!

Perhaps why I decided to post this blog yesterday, but followed the book's advice and did it tomorrow. Or today as it is now. I think!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lest We Forget

Where we you at 11am today?

I was treading the tightrope between carrying out a job as a news photographer and displaying the respect so deserved at the laying of the poppy wreaths at the War Memorial in Hungerford.

There had been little dignity in the be-suited jogging I had indulged in before the ceremony; essential to keep ahead of the parade that made its way from the Town Hall to the Bridge Street Memorial.

I wanted to – and managed – to capture the parade with the distinctive Hungerford Town Hall in the background. Which I’m sharing with you here.

However, although they were not going at a pace, by the time I had paused and taken a shot they had caught up with me!

At the Memorial there were so many people, both laying wreaths and simply attending to remember the sacrifice made by our soldiers. This in itself present a challenge; it was tricky to take the photographs required without getting in the way or looking plain rude. I was warmly greeted by numerous people who know me – the benefit of working in your home town – so cannot have caused much offence.

I also met a charming veteran; Frank Smith, formerly with the Army Catering Corp, offered to guard my camera bag as I crept forward and was charming when he asked if there was any chance of taking a photograph for his scrapbook. Naturally there was – and even another he wanted posed with the Commanding Officer and West Berkshire MP, Richard Benyon.

When the standard bearers were dismissed it was heartening to see how many of the crowd came forward to look at the myriad of wreaths that had been laid; in particular there were children fascinated by the floral tribute. Now I don’t want to sound like a Daily Mail reader, but I didn’t expect that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blogging in the Local Press

As I type a steady stream of vans will be taking tomorrow's edition of the Newbury Weekly News off to the four corners of West Berkshire and beyond; perhaps most excitingly the NWN tomorrow contains the monthly Newbury Business News.

Readers who have stuck with this blog for a fortnight will know this forthcoming issue contains news of that West Berkshire Business Club meeting that propelled so many of us into the blogosphere, even more importantly it will publish to an audience approaching 100,000 the blog addresses of the WBBC members who had their blogs up and running by last week's deadline.

With any luck this will drive some traffic and potential business in our direction. Those who have maintained their blogs will reap the greatest reward and those who have not... well, lets hope everyone is putting entries in tomorrow welcoming new visitors to our blogs!

Incidentally, the Newbury Weekly News website Newbury Today, Reading Evening Post's Get Reading website and and the Reading Chronicle's website have all recently launched blogging pages that positively encourage our contribution. The Reading papers will even offer links to your blog in return for it featuring on their pages. Newbury Today is looking for its own bloggers to join its site.

Get posting and be sure to cross reference one another to give dear old Google a helping hand!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Miriam McCallum - Pure Genuis

It might be then end of the day, but I’d like to start at the beginning and introduce you to the co-conspirator to my first appointment; none other than life coach and NLP guru extraordinaire… Miriam McCallum.

We first encountered one another several years ago when I was drafted in to write about Miriam’s flourishing business, variously teaching Neuro Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

Fortunately for me Miriam spotted something akin to untapped Jedi powers deep within me and has been gently coaxing them out ever since. Very successfully actually and no small part of my growing success should be attributed to her ongoing support as a mentor and a friend.

Mere words cannot begin to offer the recognition that Miriam’s talents deserve. I am so thrilled that we are more than one another’s clients. I would not hesitate to recommend her skills to anyone who has the slightest inkling they can achieve more with their lives. Personally, professionally – Miriam can help you!

Many of you will know Miriam and will have in fact encountered her through the various networking groups she belongs to under the auspices of McCallum Associates; however the point I wanted to make is that without failure, every person I meet who knows Miriam will speak about her with the same warmth and genuine affection, often before recounting what they owe to the softly spoken Irish lass, who rather like another product of the Emerald Isle is: Pure Genius.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The BBC - Your Truly Local Paper?

The Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson has told the Society of Newspaper Editors conference in Glasgow that the corporation could begin paying local and regional newspapers for stories.

You can read it for yourself here, but how does that impact on those of you who rely upon an good PR to place you in those very newspapers the BBC may soon be courting?

Well, Thompson isn't daft. Tapping in on the established and local newsgathering organisations is a sure fire way to bring stories to an ever more demanding local audience. In the simplest terms it could mean that a story about your business that makes it into the Newbury Weekly News, Reading Post or Basingstoke Gazette could then find its way on to the BBC. Viral PR at its best!

However, to me it also indicates that the BBC is looking for more local news; something my clients already know! Certainly getting coverage on local BBC Radio is not as tricky as you might imagine and a good visual story will attract the BBC South journalists who work from the same newsroom. Broadcast interviews are a formidable way to promote your business and part of Morgan PR's work involves coaching people for just such opportunities through our bespoke media training.

Morgan PR offers a range of retained packages, all of which include a media strategy to ensure that your business identifies the genuine opportunities to secure the news coverage that you deserve. Contact me here if you would like to know more.

Blurred Up!

Now, not sure if you are too late... but remember the praise I have heaped upon the talented photographer Neale James of Breathe Pictures? Well his blog contains a competition where you need to squint at a out of focus image and guess what it is. The first 10 correct guesses win a family portrait shoot with the this talented photographer!

I managed to do it, so there is hope for you all!

Even if you are too late, Neale's is an excellent example of a blog that is well established, often updated and offers real insight into the work he does.

Scaling the Dizzy Heights

I've had a number of emails and posts asking me how I've nabbed the number on slot on Google for 'nigel morgan blog' and also, how other bloggers from our district of the blogosphere are also appearing high on Google - via my blog.

This development was a surprise, but should have been obvious really. The very same actions that have pushed my blog up the search engine listings will work for everyone else mentioned in it too!

Interestingly, simply using the phrase 'nigel morgan blog' will help and I have not even started using tags yet - these identify key words that Google finds more easily!

Surely it is this simple:

  • Post as often as you can.
  • Place links within your blog.
  • 'Ping' the search engines to tell them something has changed.

Basically I have used Ping-o-matic, which I have bookmarked and click on everytime something changes on my site. This prompts the search engines to send their spiders to my blog and index it. Then when we do these searches - when anybody does relevant searches - the engine has what it correctly believes is recent, relevant entries.

The more people click on these returns the more relevant Google et al will deem the site to be. You can create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy simply by writing and pinging!

Hope this helps? We look forward to reading your comments.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fortune Favours the Slave

What a difference a day makes! All that blogging is paying off!

Just 24 little hours and we’re back on top! I forlornly tried the same search for me and my blog on Google earlier this afternoon, convinced that I would still be foraging for scraps in oblivion… but lo, I am number one once more!

Interestingly, such dizzy heights have been secured with a different entry from the one that was there two days ago – and my Blogger profile has nudged up to the number three slot.

Incidentally, just in case you cannot read the small print - that infernal obituary is still number two! But the live me got the number one slot out of 176,000 pages! Hurrah!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Google Top Slot Euphoria Short Lived

In the fickle world of cyberspace I was delighted and thoroughly stunned to discover that my personal branding had been so enhanced by barely a week of blogging that a world search on Google would return 'nigel morgan blog' to its premier slot.

I was nearly as shocked to discover my obituary was number two. However reports of my death were actually someone much, much older who happened to have the same name. I suspect competition from this namesake will be short lived. The successful artist who specialises in painting larger ladies may be an altogether different challenge.

However, 24 little hours later and I've gone. Vanished. Well, my blog isn't featuring on the first few pages and I am not dignfying the possibility that I am there, but in double figures! The euphoria has been replaced by despair! Not least because the dead namesake has the top slot! (I suspect those I emailed with news of my rise to the top have clicked on the obituary out of morbid curiousity and prompted Google to think it is more interesting than this blog! As if!

As a precaution I have not given you links to any of my competitors!

Interestingly, searches for titles of my individual entries do reap rich rewards and comments I have added to more established blogs feature too. I do particularly well with a mention on mental health blog The Trouble With Spikol when blogger Liz Spikol thanks me for sending her an article from Guardian Unlimited. I stumbled across her blog on a search engine months ago and keep visiting. A columnist in the Philadelphia Weekly she is a terrific example of good prolific blogging. Actually that mention has driven traffic to my blog and prompted a few emails.

What has clearly helped my cause is using a website called Ping-o-matic that tells search engines and archives when I have posted a new message. Within 24 hours I can find that message online, albeit with some pretty precise searches; but it does mean my blog is out there to be found.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Exceedingly Good Takes

Wow! The Best of Newbury Photo Exhibition is fantastic. Come up with a stunning superlative and it will only begin to describe the creativity and originality of over 150 images of a host of people.

Neale and Sam James from Breathe Pictures and Karen Holmes from deserve a veritable mountain of credit for taking an idea to the wondrous fruition in the space of just nine months.

You must go and see it – at the Corn Exchange in Newbury – to appreciate how original each photograph is. Photographer Neil has taken each subject and interpreted them in such delightful ways it makes for good entertainment. Further depth is added by the short statements beneath each canvas, adding more depth to the face above.

There was also some very clever positioning of the different subjects that variously compared and contrasted. My favourite was the Big Issue seller next to a peer of the realm.

The exhibition was launched last night at a special preview and opened by the Earl of Carnarvon, who is among those pictured. He spoke passionately about the Thames Valley Air Ambulance, who will benefit from the sale of the images. I suspect there will be a lot of Christmas presents resolved thanks to this exhibition.

The evening was particularly entertaining seeing the reaction of people to discovering their photograph. I even managed to capture a few people with their portraits, as you will see below.

Pictured (from the left) are Graham Chapple from Gardens 4 You, Richard Hayman of the Madagascan Gin Palace - currently taking Christmas bookings! Next is Tony Quinn of Recognition Express

Here is another: Richard Benyon, the MP for West Berkshire, whose own photograph has given him movie star appeal! Or at the very least it looks like he is modelling a very expensive shirt!

Richard had also been at Lou Cummins memorial service earlier in the day and recalled some fond memories of the former editor. Not least how unimpressed Lou had been with his political aspirations!

I was delightfully surprised to discover that my photo was not the blog shot I use of me on the mobile, but another one taken the same time of me just cracking up with laughter. I do that a fair bit. If you have read this far you will have already seen it at the top of the page.

The exhibition is free, open whenever the Corn Exchange is and on show until the 18th November, when it will go on tour.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

In Memory of Lou Cummins.

I was among the many, many people who gathered at St. Nicolas Church in Newbury this afternoon to celebrate the life of Lou Cummins, former editor of the Newbury Weekly News and my first editor.

The memorial service was a fitting send off and as the audience captured the diversity of his friends and associates, so the speakers captured the unique characteristics of the significantly larger than life editor.

He was obnoxious, an aggressive bully who preyed on the spirit of fresh faced young journalists - and he was a talented editor who taught me much of the skills that serve me so well now. Not least the tenacity that being a journalist requires.

Infuriatingly he would send you back to your desk to phone someone 'one last time' after you insisted that you had exhausted every avenue. Inevitably he would be right, you would land a story and have learned a lesson.

It was fun to see many former colleagues, most of whom recalled such immortal lines as "what you need Morgan is a punch in the f***ing throat", bellowed across the newsroom during one of my visits when I really should have been in school - "being educated to be a better person."

I saw Lou a few months ago and we chatted for longer than I ever spoke to him as my editor. He was more challenging than he ever was as an employer, and more friendly too. Lou was never going to be two dimensional, but that, as it turned out to be, last encounter I had with him introduced me to a rich and deep man. Albeit one who tormented me so long ago!

Photography Thrilled the Radio Star

They say no good deed goes unpunished!

Ever the consumate PR professional I thought that The Best Of Newbury Photo Exhibition would benefit from a push on BBC Radio Berkshire , just to encourage a few more punters to wander through the door and admire this innovative display.

In the fast moving world of broadcast journalism you need to keep your wits about you and before you can say 'What, the guy from Game for a Laugh' I was speaking to Henry Kelly live on air. This when I just wanted to give the newsdesk a heads up!

His genial charm was perfectly suited to feeding me questions that allowed me to wax lyrical about this free exhibition that shows at the Corn Exchange in Newbury until 18 November.

They say fortune favours the brave and foolish and it just goes to show it is always worth promoting your event and local radio is a formidable weapon. There will be people who attend the exhibition now - and who will visit The Best of Newbury and Breathe Pictures websites because of those few minutes on air, and some of those could just translate into sales.

Four years with Thames Valley Police as a press officer equipped me with some formidable broadcast skills and one of the services that Morgan PR offers is media training. Perfect for budding would-be Paxman baiters and those looking for some team building activities alike!

The Best Of Newbury Photo Exhibition

A wonderfully innovative idea comes to fruition this evening when the wraps come off a highly original photographic exhibition at the Corn Exchange in Newbury.

Neale James of Breathe Pictures, a modern and creative commercial photographic business and Karen Holmes of The Best of Newbury, the local franchise owner for the national internet directory service, first came up with the idea over a year ago.

Karen explained: “Both Neale and I wanted to capture the spirit of Newbury, not just a few buildings – but the true spirit of what makes Newbury a great place – the people. Newbury has undertaken so many changes over the last few years with events like the Bypass and the Market Place renovation; we thought lets capture the life and soul of our vibrant town in an exhibition.”

The Best of Newbury Exhibition carries shots of some of the real characters of Newbury. To be eligible to sit for a shot, the subjects must live, work or contribute to Newbury in some way. There is a mixture of humorous, formal, informal and eccentric portraits which describe the people around the town and capture the essence of Newbury, with subjects as diverse as you would expect in a town the size of Newbury.

“In all we have taken over 150 fantastic portraits of which we have chosen the best 50 to exhibit on a 12 x 16 canvas," explained Neale. "Each one of these portraits carries a small biography of the subject, capturing their story and what they do for Newbury. The others are displayed in one of two collages – everybody who has taken part will appear in the exhibition.”

Perhaps most exciting is that this will become a regular event and talks are taking place with several major sponsors for next year which will make this even bigger and better.

Those photographed (okay, I must declare a vested interest here and incidentally, my blog photo is one from my session in the studio - when my phone rang and Neale kept snapping!) have been invited to a special 'invitation only' preview tonight - officially opened by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Rest assured you will learn on this blog about how tonight goes and maybe with a few more photographs too!

The exhibition is on display at The Corn Exchange until the 18 November.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Keeping the Creative Juices Flowing

I've been quietly nagging my fellow novice bloggers to maintain their postings and keep everything nice and fresh and I have been asked for ideas.

I use my diary - in Outlook , to identify activities that I may wish to write about. Some will be previewed and reviewed, others trigger more general themes and the best part is how they will illustrate much of my work.

Also, when you know in advance that you plan to write about an event or meeting, you tend to spot things that might otherwise pass you by. You will find yourself thinking ' Oh wow! That's so going in my blog!'.

Ideally ask your clients if they would like to be mentioned and how you will insert a link to their website or blog - and of course give them yours.

But then you were doing that anyway...

Fifty Ways Beneath the Cover

In a song surely still ringing up royalties, The Flying Lizards warbled: ‘The best things in life are free’. Admittedly they were dismissing such things in favour of money, but I have just read a terrific book that cost me… nothing!

Those visitors to this blog who originate with the West Berkshire Business Club will already be familiar with our chairman, Steve Mills of Max Marketing. On his blog he is offering his ‘Stealth Marketing’ e-book absolutely free. You simply email him and ye shall receive.

Like so many good books on business ‘Stealth Marketing’ is a delightful combination of common sense advice – stuff that you are almost certainly doing, or at least know you should be doing! Through to other advice that is stunningly insightful and that you instinctively know will work. There are even a few that you will need to try to believe!

Anyone who has met Steve Mills is in no doubt of his ability and his enthusiasm is infectious. This book is just a glimpse of what he has to offer and does include details of an online course ‘Marketing Without Money’ The course comes in units and can be worked through either daily, weekly of monthly. Each unit lasts one to two hours and comes with full course notes. The course can be worked through at you own pace and costs just £49. He also offers a successful seminar under the same name.

The very first tip is to enter your company for business awards and rather fittingly I should remind you time is ticking away to enter the most prestigious of such competitions in our region. Check out WBBC for more details about the West Berkshire Business Club Business of the Year 2006 and how to enter.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sugar Fuelled Extortionists

The sheer omnipresence of Halloween this year is testimony to the power of marketing - and the lure of that sugar fix - but I am proud to say none of my clients chose to use the occasion for PR purposes. Just too tacky by far! There is a real sense of cynicism about the exploitation of the 31st October this year that could have backfired on any attempt to hitch on to this ghoulish bandwagon.

Miraculously I have so far managed to avoid the trick or treaters - not least by dawdling and discovering something fascinating on the pavement as I returned home to discover a gaggle of sugar-fuelled extortionists on my doorstep.

If that sounds uncharitable these youngsters were old enough to be out without an escort and I agree with Thames Valley Police that if you are too old to be accompanied by an adult, you are too old to be trick or treating! It also explains their tenacity in the face of a poster from Thames Valley Police discouraging such callers. Which incidentally is the scariest thing I have seen this Halloween!

Anyway, I digress, I was tickled to read via Reuters news blog about the trick or treaters mistaken for would-be bank robbers in Berlin. Kinda think the armed response would have been scarier than any trick they could have conjured up.

Cobweb Blogs

We are all busy people, but I fear that that we shall be coining the phrase coblogs - or cob web logs - for some of my illustrious counterparts on the West Berkshire Business Club are being a tad wayward at updating their blogs!

They might gather cobwebs, but the Google spiders who hunt out juicy, active and busy busy busy blogs ignore cobwebs and certainly the blogs languishing behind them.

Someone (possibly Mark Twain, maybe Abraham Lincoln) said something along the lines: "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt" However, that just doesn't work on a blog. Barren blogs undermine the businesses they represent!

Business Week, no less, stuck the knife into such a wayward blog yesterday here. To give you there gruesome highlights they identify the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards 2006 blog Launched in September and with the winner being announced this week - it has nothing more than the initial blog entry. And this sponsored by Mercedes Benz Financial!

There is a lesson there for us all? How long before someone visits your blog and decided you are just not interested in their business?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tell Me Why You Don't Like Mondays?

Mondays do get a bad press, and it not just Bob Geldof's pension boosting take on a high school shooting that inspired the song that makes it so. That anthem might reinforce the idea that Monday is grim. Back to the grindstone and all that...

However, it is not very often that you hear people who own their own businesses complain about the start of the working week. Quite possibly because it is just another 24 hours in their seven day working week! Joking aside, I suspect it all comes down to how invested you are. If you care about your business, or your job, Monday is just another opportunity.

I am not alone among the WBBC bloggers not to post over the weekend. Partly because a friend emailed me a link to a wry definition of 'blogger' on the Urban Dictionary website:

"Blogger is a term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives. Possibly the most annoying thing about bloggers is the sense of self-importance they get after even the most modest of publicity. Sometimes it takes as little as a referral on a more popular blogger's website to set the lesser blogger's ego into orbit."

Okay, so I don't think any of use are document everything, but am alone in getting a buzz when I discover a fresh comment? Anyway, obviously it was work that kept me from posting over the weekend and not any self conscious fears of meeting that definition!

Work beckons. More soon.