Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Day the Music Died

Morgan PR has directed readers to the wise writings of the self-styled Internet Psychologist Graham Jones numerous times before; indeed it was a seminar given by Graham that prompted me to launch this blog a dizzying nine months ago.

Well today he has posted an insightful piece on the demise of the music industry - and how much responsiblity lies with the music retailers for failing to respond to diminishing CD sales and how they should have responded better to the evolving market and coped with the impact of online sales. Anyway, follow the link above and you can read for yourself.

If you would like to hear Graham talk he is one of the speakers at the forthcoming Berkshire Business Show where he will be explaining how to get more business from the internet. I would thoroughly recommend that you take the opportunity to hear him speak.

So now you have reasons to visit both days - On the 11th July Morgan PR open the seminar series with a talk promising to reveal The Secrets of Great Public Relations and then the next day at 1030 you can catch Graham's tantalising talk.

Friday, June 29, 2007

New Website for the Madagascan Gin Palace

One of Newbury most original and yet longest established restaurants has just launched a new website worthy of the high regard that generations have for the Madagascan Gin Palace.

Designed and delivered by Darin Brockman and his talented team at BCL NuMedia the site neatly captures the essence of the Gin Palace, but at the same time delivers the slick accessibility that is so important to online visitors.

Spot the mouthwatering food on the website? We did that! Not the cooking, the photography! Morgan PR took them for an article on the restaurant a few months ago and we were happy to oblige when erstwhile charmer and Gin Palace founder Richard Hayman asked if he might use them.

One word of warning, the same music that runs through the soul of the Gin Palace is still likely to burst into life as you log on to the site - so if you are reading this at work and about to pay a visit... turn down the sound or everyone will know! Then again, crank the sound up and party!

Oh yes, and Richard has launched a competion on the site to test visitors' geography... what ever could be the 4th largest island in the world...? Enter here!

In Front of the Camera for

Through Morgan PR I am more used to putting our clients in front of the camera than stepping up myself; I spent plenty of time up front when working as a press officer for Thames Valley Police, indeed that was where I learned to TV skills that serve clients so well.

However, earlier today I was in front of the camera with my Governor's hat on when a film company working for (can you believe an educational channel doesn't use upper case there?) came to Hungerford to make a documentary for the channel on the Hungerford Schools Community Project.

Through being a governor at the John O'Gaunt Community Technology College I became involved a couple of year ago and currently chair the project's Strategy Group.

The programme makers, Illumina Digital, are making a programme that follows another governor facing the journey we have already undertaken.

So it was me asked to meet and greet Frances Stickley, chair of governors at Kings Langley School in Hertfordshire and was subsequently filmed as she asked me about our experience of running an extended school - which is essentially the provision of wrap around childcare, all year round in Hungerford and at our feeder primaries.

It was good fun being back on camera and quite luxurious too - a documentary crew with three cameras, and a soundman. So much more than either the local ITV news or BBC can muster for their day to day news.

Incidentally, I was invited to become a governor after delivering media training to the top team at John O'Gaunt Community Technology College.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Secrets Revealed on The Best of Newbury

Morgan PR is once again featured on that fine website The Best of Newbury, a flourishing website that will do wonders for the optimisation of any business it features, whether on the news pages or in its burgeoning directory.

They have splashed my forthcoming seminar at the Berkshire Business Show at Newbury College - you can catch me revealing the Secrets of Great Public Relations at 9.15 on the 11th July - and with a little luck and light traffic plenty of people will respond to the publicity and come and hear me speak.

I am urging more and more of my clients to use The Best of Newbury and optimisation is just one of the reasons - in a nutshell the nature of the site ensures that Google et al rightly believe it to be a fresh and dynamic site brimming with new information. This is a wonderful byproduct of the franchise nature of the site - its domain is and then all its myriad pages create a truly dynamic overall site when this is repeated in other towns who have a Best of franchise.

This is why I contribute stories to the site and have invested in a banner on the news page. Of course people find businesses on their the old fashioned way too: they use it as an online directory and knowing its web address will visit it looking for services or professionals.

Go on, you know it makes sense!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Life After Death by PowerPoint

It is a rare person indeed who has not had to endure a terrible PowerPoint presentation.

We all know that feeling, the loss of the will to live as you see the same inane clipart that is available by default, when there are good, relevant images freely available on the web.

I could go on, but a geek turned stand up, Don McMillan has already got there with this thoroughly entertaining video. which I thought you might all appreciate. So enjoy!

Life After Death by PowerPoint

Friday, June 22, 2007

It Was the Sun Wot Won It - And Newbury Today!

It is not often that you hear the Newbury Weekly News mentioned in the same breath as The Sun but the two very different publications have seen their respective websites share the Newspaper Website of the Year Award at the 2007 Picture Editors Awards.

Now Newbury Today have generously mentioned The Sun in their report of the prestigious accolade, but The Sun - reading their take on the event you could be forgiven for thinking they had scooped the award outright!

Shame on them eh?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

'Squirrel goes on rampage, injures three'

Summer has arrived and in medialand this balmy period turns positively barmy as traditional sources of news - and the talented journalists who find them - jet off on their holidays.

Advertising only marginally declines, so papers often find themselves with space to fill and a dearth of news with which to fill them. This can lead to a lowering of the news threshold and stories that might otherwise get dismissed do get included.

Hence perhaps why this treat from Reuters has made it far and wide.

BERLIN (Reuters) - An aggressive squirrel attacked and injured three people in a German town before a 72-year-old pensioner dispatched the rampaging animal with his crutch.

The squirrel first ran into a house in the southern town of Passau, leapt from behind on a 70-year-old woman, and sank its teeth into her hand, a local police spokesman said Thursday.

With the squirrel still hanging from her hand, the woman ran onto the street in panic, where she managed to shake it off.

The animal then entered a building site and jumped on a construction worker, injuring him on the hand and arm, before he managed to fight it off with a measuring pole.

"After that, the squirrel went into the 72-year-old man's garden and massively attacked him on the arms, hand and thigh," the spokesman said. "Then he killed it with his crutch."

The spokesman said experts thought the attack may have been linked to the mating season or because the squirrel was ill.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Making Good Use of the Things That They Find

I met the Wombles! Well not the furry TV kind, but their real life counterparts - and I don't mean actors in suits, I met a team of people who embody the spirit of Elizabeth Beresford's pioneering environmental warriors!

As part of the forthcoming Environmental feature in the Newbury Business News Morgan PR was given excellent directions to a remote corner of the Hampshire countryside, just south of Newbury, to meet Sam Paul, the man behind Newbury, who have been likened to those furry Royalty of recycling.

“The Wombles! That is what people call us!’ laughs Sam Paul. “How does it go in the song? ‘Making good use of the things that we find, Things that the everyday folks leave behind’ That does describe us pretty well.

“Whether building materials from a demolition or a house clearance we will strive to recycle as much as possible. From stripping down a fridge to its component parts – or ‘dense media separation’ to give it the official title, through to posting furniture and bric-a-brac on eBay, Amazon or the local Freecycle site. We try to ensure nothing is wasted.

“We shift a lot on eBay – my ID is Samstuff779 – and normally we’ll start with a minimum bid and see where it goes. Sometimes things need to be posted a few times, but normally things find a home.

“We give a lot of stuff away too, to people in the community who can make use of the ‘things that the everyday folks leave behind’; like a modern day Robin Hood, collecting from the rich! Some people are getting rid of their furniture and other people have none – it is the right thing to do."

Sam and his team, pictured at the top of this entry, were a fun bunch with a clear sense of purpose and you get the feeling they are making a difference: just like those Wombles!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bye Bye diesel and Buy Buy Biodiesel

The environmental feature that Morgan PR is currently writing for the Newbury Business News continues to introduce me to some fascinating people and businesses, all making a difference to the world we live in.

For instance, earlier today I visited Enfuels in Thatcham, makers and sellars of carbon neutral biodiesel from used cooking oil - yes, carbon neutral and from used cooking oil - when burnt the fuel only releases the carbon dioxide originally absorbed by the plant.

I met with director Fiona Blanchard who was clearly passionate about the fuel, which can be used by any diesel vehicle without the need for modification.

She explained: “People come here to Pipers Industrial Estate to fill up – or rather to let us fill up as we will do that for our customers – or we can deliver. Our Biodiesel is available in 25 litres Handy Cans or we can deliver a 200 litre tank, which does not require planning permission.

“The challenge is getting people to try it for the first time. As soon as they have they never go back; vehicles run more smoothly, it is cheaper at 89pence per litre and better for the environment. People just need to realise we are out here, making an environmentally friendly fuel out of used cooking oil.”

Enfuels is open from 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

We would be interested in hearing from anyone already using Biodiesel, so do shout if you are!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dramatic Mountain Rescue

In the best traditions of journalism a evocative headline has been used to drag your attention into something altogether less shocking, but I think even those intrepid fools involved in clambering up mountains will be impressed!

The mountains in question are 'The Three Peaks'; a gruelling 24 hour marathon up and over Britain's 3 highest mountains. Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England and Snowdon in Wales. The objective is to complete the challenge in less than 24 hours including travelling between each peak.

The challenge was completed earlier this month with just 10 minutes to spare by Mark Norgate (Elvis fan who runs Donnington New Homes) He was accompanied by Neil Grundon (of dustbin fame), Stuart Lane (a mountaineering doctor who works in forensics)and Karl Trowbridge (who can apparently source you aircraft spares wherever you may happen to be in the world.)

They set out to raise £3,000 for the Ian Rennie Hospice, which as Mark points out 'is not a charity for those suffering from indigestion, but is a charity offering specialist palliative nursing care at home to patients with terminal illness'. They've stomped past that target and are well on their way to £5,000, not least with after the event donations from pub sceptics and suchlike. You too can give via this site:

Now the 'rescue' is actually a photographic one. When Mark sent out the snaps to prove the trio of peaks had been scaled they were a bit fuzzy. Lest we end up with rumours akin to man not so much landing on the moon as a studio backlot in Hollywood, so Morgan PR turned all CSI and cleaned up the photographs with Photoshop.

Now there can be no doubt that the four men did complete their mad challenge and we should all dig deep!

Oh yes, the photos:

The top of Ben Nevis - before:

And the top of Ben Nevis - after:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Business in Berkshire Promotes Morgan PR

Business in Berkshire, the approaching encyclopedic guide to successful businesses throughout the Royal County, is doing a rather splendid job promoting the spookily similar named Berkshire Business Show, which is held next month at Newbury College.

I'm not just saying that because Morgan PR is featured on its promotion of the event and how I will be delivered the opening seminar of 'The Secrets of Great Public Relations'; genuinely to date it is the best guide I have seen and worth a visit if you want to know more about the event. Where it excels is how it links to stories and information about the exhibitors and speakers, many of whom are already benefitting from being on Business in Berkshire.

The Newbury Business News will publish just before the event with a wrap featuring details of the two day event and a guide to all the exhibitors and speakers, but until then you really should visit the site I have mentioned a multitude of times in this single blog!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Smart Shoes for Small Feet at Diddy Dickins!

Champagne toast at a little after 10am? Well were were raising our glasses to toast the opening of Diddy Dickins in Hungerford, the latest development in the the delightfully convivial footwear empire of Ellie Dickins.

The lovely Ellie, pictured here with one of her very first customers at Diddy Dickins, is someone Morgan PR has written about and photographed numerous times in the past and there is certainly a sense of pride to be delivering public relations advice for someone who is striving relentlessly to build a business based of quality products and terrific customer service.

With shoes for ladies and gents already well established the opening of Diddy Dickins has been in the pipeline for many months, but for the wraps to finally come off and the balloons to go up, it was only right we raise our glasses.

Adding a sense of ceremony to the occasion was the Constable of the Town and Manor of Hungerford, Barbara Barr, replete with her Chain of Office (pictured below with Ellie Dickins).

However, I have to confess for me she will always be one my form tutors from distant days at John O'Gaunt Secondary School, where she also tried in vain to teach me 'home textiles'!

Goodness how times have changed! It is now the John O'Gaunt Community Technology College, where I am a Governor and still unable to sew!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Morgan PR to Launch Speaker Programme

The programme of speakers over the forthcoming two day Berkshire Business Show at Newbury College has been finalised and Morgan PR will be the first of many speakers taking to the stage to impart wisdom to the assembled few/throng/masses (delete as appropriate!).

At 9.15 on the 11th July I shall deliver a talk on: 'The Secrets of Great Public Relations' Well, we call them ‘secrets’ but in reality much of what I shall be talking about is common sense! Besides this is not the Magic Circle so I am free to share these ‘secrets’

Essentially I will explain to people how to create a press release that will get them into print, on air and into cyberspace for doing little more than doing business. Explain the pitfalls, the rules and a plethora of useful tips. Or if you prefer: ‘secrets’

Someone asked me if I was daunted to be the first speaker of the two day exhibition? I explained that on the contrary, it had secured such great PR for being the opening speaker! That’s what good PR is all about, spotting the opportunities in what we do in our businesses everyday – and of course knowing what to do with them!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

That Olympic Logo...

I winced when I saw it. Honestly, I flinched and had to check the words beneath to make sure my first and lasting impression was correct - this hideous and evidentally ill conceived design is our 'logo' for the 2012 Olympics.

Now I might be jostling at the back of the queue of outrage about this hideous design, but I just heard Tessa Jowell describing it as 'fantastic' on Radio 4. Has she no shame?

From inducing epileptic fits to spontaneous vomiting (okay, I've no evidence of that, but seriously suspect it has happened!) this logo has attracted a truly awesome level of vitriol that from a public relations perspective has got to be harming the whole image of what should be a unifying sporting event.

Wouldn't a children's competition have produced a better result for much less than the £400,000 it actually cost - and generated something that wouldn't have been likened to a broken swastika!

What could they do now? Stop digging for a start and consider how they could best recover from the situation for starters. Then tuck into a healthy slice of humble pie and go back to the drawing board. However much they try to see this through, this logo is way too tainted now.

Most of the time for Morgan PR the kind of public relations in Newbury and throughout the Thames Valley that our clients require is about getting good coverage for good news; however, we also do help handle the bad news stories too, advising on the best approach to dealing with events that could be damaging if they appear in the media.

The undeniable rule is the sooner you contact us, the better our chances of protecting your reptutation.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Champagne Reception at Festival House

Festival House is probably the newest kid on among the serviced office blocks in Newbury (actually it is within a rather splendid Georgian building on Oxford Street) and Morgan PR been writing about them as they set about rapidly filling their suites and signing businesses up to their virtual office services.

However, the weekend began that bit earlier today with a champagne reception to mark the latest arrivals at Festival House - leaving only two suites available in just a few months of trading.

The can do attitude of office manager Mel Woolgrove and Director Kathryn McCusker has secured Festival House customers who have nearly always visited other serviced offices in the town and come away disappointed.

The conversation with them and their clients at the reception was as free flowing as the champagne and focused on how well we all respond to good customer service and of course how disappointed and vocal we are about poor customer service.

There is a business lesson there!

1st Call Appliance Direct hit £10 million in Sales

Undoubtedly one of the most colourful vans to be seen in Newbury, replete with a fridge freezer emblazoned across its rear doors, belongs to one of the UK’s most successful internet companies.

This is the physical presence of a cyberspace company, the lead van of a fleet of 700 vehicles that deliver throughout the UK and no doubt its distinctive appearances prompts even more people to log on to and confirm the company’s position as the country’s foremost suppliers of built in kitchen appliances.

Earlier today I met with the ever charming entrepreneur Malik Azam, who founded 1st Call Appliance Direct eight years ago. Highly competitive prices combined with a delivery service second to none catapulted the internet business to phenomenal success and it has just hit £10 million in sales turnover. Pretty impressive for a business run from home with just 2.5 staff!

Appliances from 1st Call Appliance Direct are often 25-30 per cent cheaper than major electrical stores. Not surprising that thousands of people a month click on when they need fitted appliances.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Vive la Différence at The Old Boot Inn

The mouth-watering menu at The Old Boot Inn has long been drawing the crowds to the village of Stanford Dingley, and recently the talented kitchen team celebrated a year with a French chef at its helm.

Morgan PR was there to write a feature for the forthcoming edition of Out & About and met with the charming landlord John Haley, before he handed me over to the affable French Chef Loïc Gautier.

The mouthwatering recipes adorning the blackboards at The Old Boot Inn almost had me salivating into my notepad and shorthand was tricky as Loïc described his refreshing approach to food.

He explained to me the recipe that has made the menu such a success at this delightful rural venue.

“Simplicity” he said with a shrug. “When I started here a year I knew I had a challenge to build the pub’s popularity. So I make simple food; simple things are often the best.

“So we have a diverse blackboard menu that makes the most of the freshest ingredients that we source from local suppliers – for example all our meat and game when in season comes from Vicars and asparagus, which has just come into season is grown just down the road – and is delicious.

“That is a typical food where simple cooking allows for the true flavour to come out; we also have John Dory on the blackboard today, a delicate fish that needs very little – we are using saffron – to make the most of its potential.

“Some of my flavours come from the South of France – the Cote d’Azur, the Mediterranean. They have really good food there and it was a nice place to work and learn about food and all those fresh Mediterranean flavours.

“When it is sunny there is nothing better than a glass of Rosé and some fresh Mediterranean prawns in garlic and parsley and a butter sauce – that is something I am very big on here, varying the menu to suit the weather.”