Monday, April 30, 2007

Back to the Bunk

How about this for a pub attraction? An international standard petanque pitch (is it called a pitch?) now graces the garden of The Bunk Inn at Curridge.

I think Mickey Liquorish had scarcely sprinkled the top level of sand when I arrived to take the photographs! Yet again it was a cause of finding some willing volunteers to pose for the photos - to recreate the bon amie that will constantly surrounding the feature!

Fortunately among the guests were two women I had photographed before. Both Carrie Jones and Debbie Camp work for Stagecoach Newbury, the music, drama and dance school for children aged six to 16, they were more than happy to pose for the picture - and Carrie actually played rather well!

Sign Your Domain Across My Heart

Well, my back actually, but I had already come up with the 'sign your domain' line and felt I had to go with it! So yes, my back now has embroidered across it - or rather the back of my latest batch of white Morgan PR polo shirts from the ever talented Linda Hayes from Sew Write.

Most of the time I am suited and booted for appointments, but when I am scrambling around with a camera I tend to wear something more appropriate and these polo shirts effectively fly the flag rather nicely.

Plenty of times wearing one of these polo shirts, which has the Morgan PR logo on the front, has lead to questions and referrals.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bunking Off Work

I made the short journey out of Newbury today to the delightful environs of The Bunk Inn at Curridge and was welcomed with the requisite warmth and charm that are the hosts Mickey Liquorish and his partner Ali Wright.

No excuse is needed for such a visit, but mine was the Food & Drink feature in the forthcoming edition of the Newbury Business News. They wanted to feature the improvements to the garden, so what better way than kicking back in the Mediterranean patio, replete with new water feature and very comfortable wooden furniture.

Oddly enough this job took a bit longer, not least as we had to persuade lunchtime visitors to take part in some photographs, which they did with aplomb!

I shall be popping back to the Bunk later in the week to capture another addition to the summer attractions when Mickey puts the finishing touches to his petanque pitch.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pinching the limelight at 90 Day Workshop

Today was spent working on my business rather than in it, with another productive 90 Day Planning Workshop at Newbury Racecourse with the business gurus from Action Coach.

These are the quarterly events that help develop your business – each for… the next 90 days. You get to focus on how you are driving your business forward free of the day to day distractions.

It is also a terrific networking opportunity and puts delegates alongside like minded business owners and is ripe for referrals. Indeed there are several leads I am following up and even a firm handshake too.

I do not think my vocal contributions did me any harm. To begin with there was the familiarisation exercise; on arrival we had been given a laminated card with a hand gesture upon it – mine was fingers ‘pinching’.

So when we were told to find fellow delegates with card showing our own gesture I leapt to my feet held my card aloft and bellowed: ‘pinching’! ‘PINCHING!’ and in next to no time I had identified myself as assertive and gathered my clan!

Later I took to the microphone to celebrate some of Morgan PR’s magnificent wins over the last 90 days and managed to slip in the price of my entry level PR package – it brought applause and enquiries in equal measure!

However, for me the biggest win of the day was during a workshop on developing your vision, values and purpose, for businesses with these nailed achieve so much more than those who do not.

Playing around with different ideas it was Roger Hick of RhD Design who helped me after explaining how I’d helped his business by coming up with PR ideas – he said we were all about ‘creating his reputation’ – and there you have it: Morgan PR – we create reputations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Can Do Day!

Travelling around the Thames Valley writing about businesses means I meet a lot of people who tell you what they have to offer, but writing PR means that all too often I recognise this does not necessarily translate to the ‘can do’ attitude that gets things done.

Today I met a guy who I have no doubt gets things done – and if he cannot will do them himself – Billy Little is the branch manager of the Pertempts recruitment agency that specialises in finding drivers, warehouse and industrial staff.

A plain speaking Scot, he knew his stuff, had clear policies on the necessary employment of legal immigrants, especially when it came to combating the shortage of HGV drivers in the wake of the working time directive. Not least because when push comes to shove then man is qualified to drive the HGVs himself and will do so if all else fails. Now that’s can do!

Pictured below: The Pertempts team outside its Reading office.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Morgan PR on The Best of Newbury

Morgan PR has gained some well deserved exposure on the flourishing directory of all things Newbury - for the recent presentation I delivered to the Oxygen business group in Oxford.

The Best of Newbury serves its clients well, as an affordable and increasingly comprehensive directory of local businesses it is certainly a key part of our strategy in keeping a presence high up on Google.

So being splashed on its news pages will be of great benefit and the site is always on the look out for news stories; so send yours in - or ask if you need any help.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wi-Fi Theft

It was interested to read online at BBC News the story of two people cautioned for effectively stealing bandwith from other people's wi-fi connections.

Hailed as the first such prosecutions what surprises me is how they involve people spotted using laptops in the street. I suspect the far more common theft occurs among neighbours who pinch bandwith from unsecured networks.

For example when I recently installed a new router and my laptop was hunting for the available wi-fi links before I could securely partner it with my wi-fi; remarkably it pulled up six unsecured networks, some with signals almost as strong as mine and some with friendly family names.

Now I'm more PR than IT, but know that had I chosen to a few clicks would have linked me to any of those networks and at that moment I would have been stealing their bandwith. However, how many people would have realised that was happening? After all if you are not IT literate enough to secure your network, would you know if someone else is using it?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Now That's What I Call a Wedding Photo!

How gorgeous is this photograph?

I had a meeting with Karen Chapple this morning, fresh back from her wedding in South Africa to Graham and captured on camera by the talented Neale James of Breathe Pictures.

Technically it was a business meeting, but it would have been rude not to have spent at least some time looking at the myriad of photographs from the happy event!

Regular readers will know both Karen and Graham from their respective businesses - Karen is the driving force behind The Best of Newbury and Graham is the green-fingered entrepreneur who established Garden4You

They are both hard working professionals and it while they are always cheerful when I meet them, there was something tremendously rewarding to see them looking so incredibly happy at their wedding celebrations.

Not that I'm going soppy mind - I naturally mean professionally speaking - it was good to see the work of a talented photographer!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oxygen - A Breath of Fresh Air

I love the smell of bacon in the mornings, actually it can be a pretty enticing aroma at any time of the day - however, the aforementioned food group was just a bonus for turning out early this morning to meet the business professionals at Oxygen, a networking group that meets in Oxford.

I had been invited to reveal 'The Secrets of Great Public Relations' as part of the education slot by my business guru from Action Coach, Sally Rainbow Ockwell (Click here for a free Business Health Check with Sally and here to register for her newsletter) and found everyone attentive and keen to learn some useful pointers on making the most out of PR for their respective businesses.

A mix-up meant that my carefully crafted PowerPoint presentation remained locked on a memory key and I had to improvise, but it seemed not to matter with everyone paying attention and nodding reassuringly and laughing in most of the right place. They followed up with some good questions and finished off with applause. Which was rewarding for some hasty busking based around sparse notes and memory!

What I found rewarding was how many of the 30 second presentations (this is networking 30 seconds, not radio broadcasting so think closer to 90 seconds!) that each member did illustrated my point that much of PR simply reflects what they do. Not rocket science - although there was an electrician with a shaggy dog story that was nearly a frazzled dog story about two black labradors chewing through a cable - but simply tales of everyday existence that would work with a wider audience.

I am due to deliver the same kind of presentation to another business group soon, hopefully with PowerPoint included and I am happy to offer it to any groups out there who are enticed by 'The Secrets of Great Public Relations'.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Banking on the Innocent Taking the Bait

I have to say that a combination of programmes keep my inbox relatively free of the dreaded spam, but in a fleetingly idle moment today I actually took a look at some of the rubbish that passes through my junk mail and my eye was drawn to urgent communications from Barclays Bank.

Now I have not been a customer with Barclays for many years, so it was easy to dismiss the idea they needed anything from me, but looking at these emails in the format they will appear in some inboxes I was pretty shocked.

Take a look!

Cunningly the whole piece of text is an image with a hyperlink to a website that while nothing like the Barclays website proper, is nevertheless a convincing attempt to look like a bank site. What is outrageous is how the phishers have lifted the bank's text on security wholesale - how cheeky?!

Now I like to think that I will always spot these fraudulent attempts should they slip past my front line security, but how many people do get caught out?

More worrying is what the fraudsters will do next, for they will surely trade up as more people get wise to their artifice.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Massage in a Bottle

Regular readers will recall that I have been writing and photographing therapy centres for a forthcoming feature on healthy living in the Newbury Business News; well with my work on that publication done and dusted it seemed only fair I indugle myself!

So, amid the myriad of treatments I had witnesses I turned to my good friend and very talented massage therapist Anthea Forde - pictured here from an earlier feature - to untangle the knots that tapping on a keyboard had created in my shoulders.

I first met Anthea back in 2001 when a clever soul suggested aromtherapy massage might help slow me down as I sprinted up Mount Stressful. They were right and while I might not be stressed out about anything more treacherous than the paperboy leaving the newspaper hanging out of the letterbox, I still benefit from her teasing my muscles into their rightful locations.

Of course, the simple fact I am not actually writing about this treatment - except for here, now! - makes it all the more relaxing in the first place! Of course, the purpose built surroundings of the therapy centre at Deanwood Park helped too!

Visit the link above or telephone 01635 32223 if you would like to book a treatment or visit Anthea's own website to find the best location for you.