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.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another WBBC Blogger Joins the Fray!

Days later and the advice of Internet Psychologist Graham Jones is being heeded by those who heard him at the West Berkshire Business Club on Wednesday - and lo, another blog has been born!

Four Four Time is the company founded by Jill & Tony Spiers to launch their excellent timer application, and it is worth a moment of any busy person's time if they value that time. And Tony's Blog is from the same talented team, and the latest WBBC blog to emerge in cyberspace.

Tony is as talented a writer as he is a programmer and his sense of endearing fun is thankfully not lost in the translation from speech to blog (and nor is my appreciation for his kind words about me in that very first blog!).

So if you are visiting here, take the time to visit there and be sure to leave comments too!

Greeting Deadlines

Month end is an understandably frantic time for many; for me it coincides with the copy deadline for the November edition of the Newbury Business News, published by the Newbury Weekly News, one of Morgan PR's major clients.

It always respresents a challenge coaxing those who are being written about to meet this deadline, coming as it does almost two weeks ahead of the actual publication. I suspect some do not see the deadline as 'real' - but it absolutely is and has to be met lest there is a knock on to the production process that lead to final publication, this time on November 9th.

The publication is a balanced blend of paid for advertising features and genuine news articles. For those seeking to be published they need to consider what message they wish to convey and what they want to achieve.

The strongest route is, of course, news. Readers will consider news articles more objective than advertising - although the fact that most adverts are written in the same style helps mitigate this. If what you want to say or do has a strong news value then it stands a good chance of being published - providing you tell me or the paper! However there are no guarantees and of course, being news, if a stronger story comes along, your tale could be squeezed out. There is also the consideration that you have little control over how the story will appear, where it features within the publication and whether there is a photograph. It is a news story and the publication has editorial independence. This independence is why so many people value it!

This relative uncertainty is why many opt for the advertising features. Naturally you pay - it is advertising - but such a feature is normally written by a journalist - often me - and signed off by the client with all the associated certainty over what will be published.

Sometimes the choice between trying for a news story, either by calling me or the publication, or opting for an advertisement, is straight forward. Other times it can be a challenge to decide how to handle something. It is almost always going to be more cost effective to issue a press release than pay for an advert - but you come back to the dilemma of there being no guarantees!

I am posting a great deal for someone who began by pointing out how busy he was!

More later, and let me know what you think?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ghost Writers Are the Norm

Or at least they can if you get found out! (And apologies to The Doors for a poor play on 'Rider on the Storm')

Karen from The Best of Newbury has posted a comment suggesting that I should write other WBBC members blogs for them, generously being impressed at my novice blogging efforts.

The truth is that I have ghost written entries for blogs in the past and much as I once sold websites before I had my own, I've written for blogs prior to the creation of this one. Contact me if you do need any help or advice and be assured of complete confidentiality. Nobody can prove ghosts exist and you shouldn't help them!

I suspect that it may be a skill that does come into greater demand if the predictions of Internet Psychologist Graham Jones come to fruition. I appreciate his praise most sincerely. So much so I have been to visit his blog and have posted a comment on his entry, which you can find here.

Whatever we do we should support the blogs from fellow members, so if you have yet to post a comment at Karen's blog do so! Likewise Ivan's blog deserves our attention.

The Morning After...

At last! Morgan PR has a blog!

Perhaps without the noctural keyboard tapping suggested by Internet Psychologist Graham Jones at his entertaining and oh so informative talk at last night West Berkshire Business Club meeting. I still pay nightly homage to that old fashioned activity called sleep, so it was only this morning I got around to exploring the intuitive Blogger.com. It is so simple to be almost unnerving.

The meeting was entertaining all around. From the top tips turned testimonials - thank you to the very real Virtual Office Secretary Sarah Rhoads for being so lovely about my skills - through to chairman Steve Mills excellent talk on the newsletter service offered by Business in Berkshire, which is where he hosts his own newsletter for Max Marketing which frankly sounds like a superhero!

Most fellow members of the WBBC will know that one of Morgan PR's main clients is the Newbury Weekly News and its month business publication, the Newbury Business News. However only a few of you ever contact me to tell me about the exciting deals you are striking, awards you are involved in - or blogs you are launching. The words tricks and missing spring to mind! I always say people should call me with their stories and ideas. The worst I can do is say no... Well, actually the worst I can do it laugh like a drunken hyeana and then splutter no. But you get the idea.

Of course, some people retain my PR services and they will discover that I badger them, never laugh like a hyena, and will identify the opportunities for publicity that their everyday activities almost always generate. Monthly fees start at just £75!

Incidentally, I said this was Morgan PR's first blog, technically yes... We will not talk about the ghost writing entries for companies who want a professional journalist scribing for them until a later post, and that is if you ask nicely!

What would you like to hear about? the mystery shopping perhaps?

Well here goes - about to actually post!