Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hello! Newbury!

Has come to Newbury and yours truly is among those splashed! Actually, with apologies and a gratuitous link to Hello! I must confess I was actually talking about the dashing 'Social Circuit' in the Newbury Weekly News' Out & About magazine, free with the newspaper today.

It does have a vaguely Hello!esque feel to it with black tie abounding, wine glasses aloft and grinning aplenty. I am among those captured at the recent West Berkshire Business Club, Business of the Year Award.

Actually, this very picture (printed with the kind permission of the NWN:

Pictured (left to right) are: NWN Advertisement Manager Julie Harris, Award winner Robin Winnett of WinIT Consultancy, Award Finalist Me!, Award Finalist Melvin Byles of Netstationers West Berkshire, Andrew Scott of K&H and Steve Mills of Max Marketing and the WBBC chairman.

I should add that while we languish on page 55 some business folk get splashed on page 3! Okay it is a small preview for page 55, but Karen Holmes from The Best of Newbury, Graham Chapple from Garden4You and Roger Hick from RhD Design, and his wife Pam, are distinctly the most attractive faces when you open the magazine!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Opportunity Knocks

While start ups will often devote large swathes of time to disguising just how shiny and new they are, more established organisations will often let significant landmark anniversaries drift by without recognising the tremendous PR opportunities they present.

Today I visited Newbury Nannies - just months away from their 25th anniversary and reassuringly aware that it presents a good opportunity to secure some exposure, but hopefully my own expertise as a journalist and running Morgan PR added a few more ideas to the mix.

Newbury Nannies was founded in 1982 by Nicola Walters, who more recently established Acres of Fun, which is recognised as one of the most prestigious private nursery schools in the area and will no doubt celebrate its own 25th birthday one day!

So ask yourself, how long has your business been going? Or do you know someone whose company is quietly letting an anniversary slip by? Give Morgan PR a shout before you blow those candles out and retreat into darkness!

Incidentally, Morgan PR celebrates its fifth birthday later this year!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Department Store with a Difference

The 'Women in Business' feature that I am currently working on took me into Newbury department store Camp Hopson today to meet and photograph a dynamic dozen ladies who for a host of reasons are making a different at the independent retailer.

It was more fun than work probably should be, but also fascinating to discover so many individuals passionate about their work and even more impressively, their employer.

The focus of this particular feature is not simply the fact these women are in business, but more the difference they make and also how the family run business seeks to retain its staff; preferring to retrain them and support them in a change of direction within the business rather than simply recruit a new member of staff.

How refreshing is that when you consider the churn that exists within many organisations that means human resources has a virtual revolving door.

Anyway, you'll be able to read all about it on March 15th - and you have until the end of this week to book a slot in the 'Women in Business' feature.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Benefits of Simple Touch

One of the features within the forthcoming March edition of the Newbury Business News is 'Women in Business' and today it brought me in touch with an old friend - now that is a friend of old, not an elderly friend!

Julia Bennett runs the Simple Touch massage practice and is such a brimming bundle of positive energy you suspect that clients could leave her treatment room above Jason Palmer Hairdressing in Newbury feeling infinitely better - without ever have been touched! So just image how well it would work with a massage thrown in!

I was fascinated to learn that her considerable skill base now encompasses baby massage; something that she teaches parents to do in their own homes.

As she eloquently explained: "Massaging your baby introduces a unique level of confidence and trust to your relationship as it creates a deeper bond between you and your infant. Massage also helps aid digestion and can alleviate colic and wind. A loving touch is essential to the healthy growth and development of your baby."

Naturally it is a good progression from the pregnancy massage that she also offers alongside more traditional therapies.

Now I feel quite guilty. If I had seen Julia much sooner, when these treatments were new offerings rather than the established practice they are today, there was a golden opportunity for a news story with all the benefits that can bring. Now there might still be, but it will be a harder win than it was.

Which neatly leads me to the benefits of retaining Morgan PR as my website explains. Alongside the reasonable fees (from just £75 per month!) to a client predicting their spending, it also means we meet regularly and do not miss those opportunities.

Anyway, with a lunch date firmly in our diaries we will not be leaving it as long until the next time we catch up! In the meantime, if you have been a customer with Simple Touch, please tell us more in the reader comments.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Look at me Ma!

Well, perhaps not quite on top of the world - or indeed anywhere On the Waterfront, but on top of some scaffolding in the centre of Newbury did provide a rare glimpse of the town's rooftops.

Bright and early had gone by 10.30, which was the time this morning when I met up with the senior team at Palady Homes at their new site in St. John's Road (read more here) and clambered aloft to take some photographs for a forthcoming feature. The skies were a bit dull, but the guys were far from and took some nice photographs.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Marco Pierre White's Yew Tree Inn

The singlest most delightful highlight of the day must have been a thoroughly indulgent lunch with the lovely Anne Thomson at Marco Pierre White's Yew Tree Inn at Highclere.

Anne, a friend and client, is a successful Advanced Hypnotherapist who runs Mindset Hypnotherapy in Newbury - you may have seen her mentioned in earlier entries on this blog? Recently she launched a new venture: Diets Make You Fat, which draws on her own experience and grasp of the insidious nature of the diet industry and the plain and simple fact that it does not work.

What does work - and the testimonials coming in to her website are a good indicator - is her audio approach, with a 10 CD set that combines coaching with hypnosis to provide a method to achieve weight loss that is permanent.

And remember that Advanced Hypnotherapy differes from traditional hypnotherapy in that it tackles the root cause of a problem, rather than the symptoms. For example: a traditional hypnotherapist might make a smoker feel repulsed by cigarettes. An Advanced Hypnotherapist would ask your subconscious why you started smoking in the first place - and persuade you why that might not be such a good idea!

Anyway, we digress! The Yew Tree provided delicious food and generous portions too. There was a heart-stopping moment when we were asked if we'd booked? (we hadn't!). Uttered in that way that we were buffoons for thinking we could just drop in and eat! As it turned out we could and were shown to a table. It was quietly busy, but the truth is we could have eaten on a variety of empty tables if we'd wanted to!

However, that was the only real pretention in this restaurant, and there was an honesty to the food that was refreshing. We wanted a nice restaurant, but you suspect you may feel a little uncomfortable with such decadence at lunchtime! However, as pressed as the linen was, and as wide ranging as the menu might be, it was a good place to be!

In a wide-ranging conversation we covered work, rest and play and some more work. However, technically this was my birthday lunch! I bought Anne a lunch for her birthday last year - some three months late. She was returned the compliment!

Morgan PR in the Newbury Business News

For reaching the finals of the West Berkshire Business Club, Business of the Year competition we scooped a sprawling half page in the Newbury Business News, published today and free inside the Newbury Weekly News.

Naturally I had written it myself! After all, I am not quite sure who would have interviewed me as I am responsible for delivering these advertising features! It was actually quite a challenge to cover the comprehensive nature of what we offer in just 900 words! Considering the thousands of words I wrote for my new look website, which although finished yesterday, effectively went live today.

Naturally it is early days, but I have already had a few emails - all from friends and clients - who visited the site after seeing it in the NBN. The truth is, the space was a prize and I see it as building brand awareness. What happens beyond that is a bonus!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Morgan PR launches new website

Welcome to the all new Morgan PR website!

Well, really this is just the blog, but above is a screengrab of the new Morgan PR website, so ably created by David Fullstone and his team at FC Online.

What started as an idea to tweak my old site a little over a week ago rapidly evolved into a full re-design project and gave me the high pressured chance to review our online offering.

Fortunately, the work we have been doing with Sally Rainbow-Ockwell from Action Coach has helped the company grow and focus on its future which in turn has given a firm direction to the website.

It does feel like a collabrative effort. David did the hard work with the coding, but the photographs are by Neale James at Breathe Pictures - except the champagne one, which was kindly provided by the Newbury Weekly News. Key clients also responded to my request for fresh testimonials. All these have combined to give the site a professional feel.

Go and have a look! And do try out the slickest contact form known to man!

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Importance of Updating Websites

As my web guru David Fullstone of FCOnline has so often told me it is vital to keep your website looking fresh and even more important that it tempt that likes of Google to visit.

So with a hefty nudge from the aforementioned master of web trickery I found my website in the process of evolution and have been writing some 25 pages of web copy today - all fresh and bursting with honest to goodness key words.

They will be thrust into the crucible that is web programming as an artform and my new website will take shape this weekend. It is being based on a fine looking site FCOnline is writing for another client - after all, the wheel is round and works pretty well.

It has been a fun exercise prompted by the knowledge I needed to tweak the aging site here and there ahead of the web address being promoted next week when a feature on Morgan PR appears in the Newbury Business News. The tweak turned into a complete revision and I am indebted to David for his committment to this project.

And if you are quick you can watch the maestro at work this weekend!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Palady Homes offer quality apartments in Newbury

Over the years I have worked with a host of property developers on different projects, but I am delighted to be working once again with Palady Homes, quite possibly one of the most discerning developers I’ve met.

The company founders, Adrian Doyle and Alex Pearce, have both worked for the high volume developers and have strode in the opposite direction ever since, striving to produce high quality, near luxury homes with the kind of attention to detail normally only seen among obsessive self-builders!

After all, why would they buy a site with planning permission and then incur delays and expense seeking different planning permission? Surely economics would dictate turning it around faster would pay? Maybe, but that wouldn’t tally with their standards.

Butterfield House – already half sold after little more than a month of marketing – will be quite possibly the most splendid apartments in Newbury with so many features it is hard to list them without sounding like a rabid estate agent.

I am heading back to Butterfield House at the weekend to take a picture of Alex and Adrian high on the scaffold where they assure me are commanding views of Newbury.

And they forecast snow!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Breathe Pictures Morgan PR with Style

While I might take photographs for many of the features I write, when it comes to my forthcoming half page advertisement in the Newbury Business News there was only one photographer I wanted to use – the immensely talented Neale James of Breathe Pictures.

Regular readers will recall he photographed me for the exhibition held at the Corn Exchange last year. I actually featured in The Best of Newbury and Breathe Pictures Exhibition, indeed that picture is at the top of this blog (although maybe not for much longer after seeing the ones he took of me today!).

Karen Holmes from The Best of Newbury was kind enough to join us at Neale’s rural studio to help pose up some business like shots and Neale wife and fellow photographer Sam also joined in.

I have to say that I am absolutely delighted with the photographs and was in awe at how quickly Neale saw opportunities to create such fabulous images and I do not hesitate to recommend his services to readers of this blog – whether for your wedding, family event or commercial requirements. Absolutely outstanding.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Spam central!

I caught up on some IT maintenance today, little jobs that had been niggling in the background but never quite annoying enough to warrant attention.

For instance, my ‘enquiries at Morgan PR’ email was something that had never been set up in anything more than theory and I was keen to add it to Outlook. For instance I knew it was the email address on the all new West Berkshire Business Club website, so I should be checking it.

Deluge! Little did I know that whilst I had not been using it, it was a natural hub for hundreds and hundreds of spam emails to congregate in the hope I had taken leave of my senses and wanted to buy their variety of deceit! Honestly!

To be honest everyone of them was caught by Outlook as they bombarded my inbox so it was more the surprise than any real inconvenience. But still… how much Spam?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Shirtworks Shop re-opens in Oxford

I had a fun morning in Oxford today, photographing the official launch of a client’s revamped shop on the Cowley Road. I had not visited the old Shirtworks store, but everyone seems united in their conviction that the all new look is a tremendous improvement.

They had taken my idea for a giant tee-shirt and equally outsized pair of scissors for the symbolic focus of the opening ceremony and it looked fabulous. Well, I would say that wouldn’t I! The Shirtworks team are pictured here.

The shop has been re-designed by Jan Lund of Jan Lund Design and she joined in the festivities today, clearly very proud of her efforts - and it really does seem like a bright, modern shop that deserves your custom for printed and embroidered tee-shirts and workwear!

We’d invited the various local media to cover the event, but in the reality I suspect the fringe nature of the event tempted them to wait and see what the photos were like we promised to send them.

In a competitive news environment it always pays to take your own photographs of a media event, not least so that you have some you can use without needing to credit a newspaper. However, cameras go wrong and accidents happen – so you never know when your photos might become the photos!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Photographing a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind!

Well, more taxing is capturing the intermittent laser in action as it slices through steel and of course get the best shower of sparks too!

Allow me to explain. I was at Taylor Made Fabrication in Thatcham for a feature due to appear in the next edition of the Newbury Business News. They were keen to have a photo of their laser in action, replete with sparks cascading away from the cutting point.

Well, the sparks do not come on command and the laser is actually busy cutting out an intricate shape and has a programmed mind of its own! Consequently it took hundreds of shots trying to anticipate the point where all the desired elements would be in play. My perseverance paid off and I eventually caught this image on my camera. So impressed were they that it will not only be published in the newspaper, but it is also set to grace the wall of their front office.