Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Flooding Advice Website on Kick FM

Kick FM were quick off the mark and were the first radio station to seek an interview about the launch of www.floodadvice.org admittedly it was a pre-recorded interview that will be broadcast tomorrow, but it will nevertheless serve to raise awareness about the very real need to have a surveyor examine your home or business if it has been flooded.

Flooding Advice Website Launched

The exhaustive work the Morgan PR has been doing for Chartered Building Surveyors, Easton Bevins came to fruition today with the launch of their Flood Advice website and helpline; over 30 pages of useful advice and contact details for flood victims across Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Press releases have gone out to the media across these areas and as Mike Bull from Easton Bevins Newbury Office, which has teams helping people who have been flooded in Thatcham, Pangbourne and in Oxford and Abingdon, indeed throughout Berkshire and Oxfordshire, explained: “We really felt there was a need for a central point where people could get impartial and independent advice on their situation.

“Our surveyors have dealt with flooding in the past, but never anything on this scale and it has become quite clear that there is conflicting advice being offered to the victims of the floods.

“With devastation on such a large scale it is easy to see why there has not been a consistent approach to assessing the damage caused, but it is essential that this is done by a qualified professional like a Chartered Surveyor who has the training to perform such an important function.

“Many people will discover that their insurance policies will cover the use of such professionals as ourselves; we are specialists in building construction as opposed to the loss adjusters that many people are seeing and who have been clearly overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of claims.

The website gives helpful tips on the problems people should be looking for together with an enquiry form that will put them in touch with one of our Chartered Surveyors who will offer any advice and can arrange a visit if required.

An additional benefit to using Easton Bevins is how the company can project manage any remedial works it identifies as necessary and secure the necessary accredited professionals and tradesmen to carry out the work, reducing the flood victim’s exposure to rogue traders.”

Couldn't have put it better myself!

With the releases, well.. released we now have to wait to see what is published and broadcast.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Morgan PR Retained by Easton Bevins

Morgan PR has been retained by the Easton Bevins to handle its media response to the flooding that has caused so much damage across Southern England. Easton Bevins is highly successful multi-disciplinary Chartered Surveying and Architectural Design practice and has been serving clients from offices across Southern England for over 30 years and its teams of surveyors from offices in Newbury, Swindon, Cheltenham, Thornbury and Bristol will be instrumental in ensuring that people receive the correction advice and compensation for the damage cause to their homes and businesses by the floods.

Already its teams of Chartered Surveyors have been employed by insurance companies, private individuals and businesses throughout the flooded areas to make a professional assessment of the extent of damage caused by the flooding. We have worked with Easton Bevins in the past and it is exciting to be asked to represent them at such an important stage for the company. How the company is perceived over the coming weeks and months will resonante through the region long after the flood waters have receded and homes have been repaired.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Citizen Photographer and the Flooding in Berkshire

Happy to heed the advice to avoid non-essential travel, like so many I have been glued to my PC watching the flooding story unfold. The media are doing a terrific job in the face of chaos and flooded transport routes, but while they scrabble for the helicopters it is the local people with a camera and an internet link that are coming to the fore.

Not so much the citizen journalists that have been name checked so frequently in the wake of bombings and other urban stories, but citizen photographers who are giving the media a glimpse of the floodwaters at their most treacherous at a time when the professionals simply cannot get there.

I know that hundreds more photos will be published soon, but I wanted to present to you a review of the images posted on Newbury Today and BBC Radio Berkshire, both with a burgeoning selection of images. Literally, each time I move another image into the video below, and credit it accordingly to each media, more have appeared.

So here, by no means definitive, is a review of Citizen Photographer's contribution to the local media:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Torrential Flooding in West Berkshire

And I thought I had it bad! That rain! I was driving back from New Greenham Park just after lunchtime today; I been dashing from car to appointment through heavy rain all morning, but nothing prepare me for the flooded roads and abandoned cars.

A 30 minutes journey took me two-and-a-half hair raising hours. Other people are still stranded. I know it is all relative, but my car is not a boat!

With the main roads awash and the transport system sloshing to a halt I opted for the back roads I imagine persistant drink drivers to know. They would have known the dips that would be flooded. I didn't. Thank the emptying heavens for reverse parking control as it made 39 point turns in single track roads an air-conditioned breeze.

I was dry until chivalry got the better of my sense of dry-preservation when I found an half submerged and as it turned out abandoned Nissan Micra in a particularly deep pond on nameless road in north Hampshire.

Back safe and dry I am watching the situation unfold online and it is clear that the flooding is going to be horrendous - and it is still raining.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Advanced Hypnotherapy in Newbury

Newbury's Mindset Hypnotherapy has moved to new premises in town offering better facilities to its clients, including improved access and free parking.

So it seemed only fitting that Morgan PR meet up with Anne Thomson to ensure the move receives suitable publicity!

The company was founded by Advanced Hypnotherapist Anne Thomson two-and-a-half years ago and her ability to help people achieve their goals, conquer their fears and combat medical problems has put her services in high demand.

“I had been running the practice from a small first floor office and over time it became impractical and very difficult for anyone who could not cope with stairs.

“Now I have a much larger suite on the ground floor at Festival House in Oxford Street, Newbury with much better access and a large reception area where clients are looked after by the friendly staff at Festival House if they arrive early. It also has parking behind the office, off Strawberry Hill.”

The move also reflects the growth in Anne Thomson’s other venture: Diets Make You Fat, which offers an audio programme for people seeking a long term solution to their weight problems online at www.dietsmakeyoufat.co.uk.

Demand for the programme soared after an American study grabbed the headlines after it revealed ‘diets make you fat’ and sales have also been boosted as people meet Anne online in her capacity as a Guru on Anne Diamond’s website www.fathappens.com

“The online venture Diets Make You Fat is growing too; and as much as it is virtual, I still need the space to run this successful business as much as I do Mindset Hypnotherapy."

Anne will be appearing in the forthcoming edition of the Newbury Weekly News lifestyle magazine, Out & About.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bright Light City Gonna Set my Soul

Regular readers will be familiar with my faith in Action Coach and how much the world’s No 1 Coaching Firm has helped my grow my own: Morgan PR.

So it was exciting today to be given the chance to hear the company’s founder, Brad Sugars, speak to an audience of over 500 people at Newbury Racecourse as part of the UK leg of his World Tour.

It was fascinating and exciting to hear from someone who has built such an outstanding global business; he began quipping that he never had a paper round – he had four – and he didn’t deliver any of them, preferring to manage his friends as they delivered for him. More tales designed to inspire and jolt in equal measure soon followed as he moved toward promoting his sales materials and the ultimate prize – joining him for a seminar in Las Vegas.

Now I’ve been the smart aleck since my schooldays, so listening to Brad Sugars reach his sales patter crescendo I was sorely tempted to use his advice of striving to buy wholesale to offer a cunning deal – How much discount if I bought 200 tickets?

In the event I opted not to call out – much to the dismay of my own Action Coach, Sally Rainbow-Ockwell, who was disappointed at my uncharacteristic modesty and was intrigued to know how Brad would have responded…

So she marched me up to the front where the billionaire himself was still chatting with the bolder members of the diminishing audience.

As billionaires go he was thoroughly approachable and intrigued by my proposal and actually stunned into silence – if only briefly! He then came up with quite a generous price for wholesale (not a discount!).

It was then I revealed my cunning plan – had I been offered such a discount (sorry – price for wholesale – there is a difference and Brad doesn’t discount!) I would have stood up and been able to undercut Brad’s price for the Las Vegas seminar and would have offered the pairs of tickets at this discount (I can discount!) and probably sold the lot and made a tidy (meticulously substantial) profit!

Brad announced he would not have let me do that! And as it was his show, and the whole billionaire thing, I suspect he would have prevailed.

Immodesty allows me to think that he was impressed and certainly he was keen for us to join him in Las Vegas in October. We were too and settle for just the pair of tickets.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Lapdesk Conference Folder

One of the people who came to the Morgan PR seminar on 'The Secrets of Great PR' at the Berkshire Business Show was entrepreneur Paul Gomm, who sought me out afterwards and was kind enough to tell my how inspired he had been by my talk.

I have to say after talking to him I too was inspired by his Lapdesk invention, which banishes the tricky balancing of a pad on your knee with an innovative piece of design.

I the best traditions of 'Dragon's Den' I asked Paul for his pitch - after establishing that a patent had been applied for!

Paul explained: "The Lapdesk was initially designed to meet the needs of business men and women who attend meetings and conferences and require a facility to make notes and to store documents and information in a secure yet portable format.

"It overcomes the main disadvantage of a traditional conference folder, due to it’s unique internal support system which creates the perfect angled writing surface on which to write or simply to rest a book or magazine on to read. Once the all-round zip is opened and the side supports secured, the Lapdesk is designed to sit comfortably on the user’s lap. This enables the user to maintain a healthy posture whilst sitting and avoids the user having to cross their legs repeatedly, to obtain the ideal angle on which to write – the downside with a traditional conference folder.

"The Lapdesk is quite unique and so versatile that it can be used by anyone who is travelling and needs a flat angled surface on which to write or perhaps rest a book,it creates the ideal angle on which to rest a laptop to reduce strain on the user’s wrists whilst typing, children can use it for working at home or whilst in the car and it is particularly beneficial for wheelchair users.

"Inside, there is a good sized pocket for retaining A4 documents, plus pockets to retain CDs, business cards and credit cards, plus a space for the user’s pen.

"The lie-flat handle on the outside allows the Lapdesk to be placed on a table and it can also be used as a mini-lectern, for displaying notes whilst speaking, to add that professional finish to any presentation."

It was fun to see the stir that his demonstration created, for his is a product that sells itself - indeed if you are interested it retails at just £34.99 and can be bought online by clicking here

Secrets of Great Public Relations Revealed at the Berkshire Business Show

After months of planning the Berkshire Business Show finally got underway today - and is still on tomorrow, so not too late to visit!

You are however too late to hear me reveal 'The Secrets of Great Public Relations' which was the opening seminar and attracted an audience of around 15 people into the small lecture theatre at the Newbury College venue.

I was introduced by the marathon running public speaker extraordinaire Jim Ewan (he runs marathons - I''m not suggesting his public speaking runs on!) who said some kind words referring to how I got him splashed on Meridian Television earlier in the year when he ran across the Saraha Desert for charity!

The audience was made up of some familiar faces and plenty of new ones too and I was thrilled that some of those sought me out afterwards and I look forward to working with them in the near future.

Naturally I praised blogging as an essential part of any public relations campaign and (almost) seamlessly cut to a pre-recorded video segment of the PowerPoint presentation, which you can see below:

I had to laugh - one of the audience, Accountant Paul Pointer from Freeman Baker Associates quipped it looked like a hostage video! What do you think?

I'm back at the show tomorrow and will bring you more news then.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shappi Khorsandi and Russell Kane at the Newbury Comedy Festival

For the third night in a row it was back to New Greenham Arts to review a double bill of comedy and certainly the best I've seen so far during the Newbury Comedy Festival.

Shappi Khorsandi and Russell Kane
New Greenham Arts

With disarming warmth and a flirtatious smile a heavily pregnant Shappi Khorsandi charmed the audience sufficiently that she could have probably gotten away with murder; instead she just chose some outrageous jokes that might have offended from a less enchanting comic.

Iranian born and brought up in a Christian school, she was on solid ground for some wry and sometimes insightful take on cultural differences and prejudices, and offered some challenging views on racism – even her own accidental racism, illustrated with some cringing anecdotes. She is clearly a very talented comic and one I’d like to see again.

Russell Kane burst onto the comedy scene at the Edinburgh Festival last year and has since picked up a slew of awards and it was easy to see why; his high energy performance left you breathless and gasping as another superb observation or aside threw you into spasms of laughter.

He engaged with many audience members, but with deference and friendliness that seems rare among comedians looking for the put down laugh. And each foray into the crowd would send him careering down the path of another anecdote or aside that seemed genuinely spontaneous.

Kane also mixed some sketches into the act with the help of Sadie Hasler, bringing his rapier wit to play on the foibles of Essex and introducing us to ‘Fakespeare’, a cracking blend of the Bard and the worst estuary English. Inspired!

Something that both Khorsandi & Kane (who with name power like that should consider launching a law firm together in the unlikely event their comedy ever fails) had going for them was the cutting edge freshness that came with trying out new ideas destined for next month’s Edinburgh Festival, one of the best aspects of many of the acts at the Newbury Comedy Festival.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Newbury Comedy Festival - mini reviews on newburytoday

If you cannot wait until Thursday to enjoy the Newbury Comedy Festival reviews in The Newbury Weekly News website, then pay a visit to the sister website newburytoday
as it is carrying especially written potted reviews on the host of gigs taking place.

Interesting to see that with a weekend of gigs already having taken place, two of the four reviews have been posted by yours truly - where are the rest?!

The Bad Film Club at the Newbury Comedy Festival

Another night another comedy review! It was back to New Greenham Arts on the former Greenham Common Airbase to see The Bad Film Club, a name which says it all and indeed rarely would be sufficient for a would be punter to anticipate the show.

I was joined by the unfailingly affable Robin Winnett of Win IT and deserving winner of this year's West Berkshire Business Club, Business of the Year competition, who readily accepted an invitation to comedy without knowing what it was about. Such bravery was rewarded!

Without further wittering, here is the review that will appear in this week's Newbury Weekly News. A potted version has also been written for newbury today:

The Bad Film Club
New Greenham Arts

The idea is as terrific as it is original; pick a truly awful movie (for our evening of cinematic ridicule it was Patrick Swayze’s 1989 ‘classic’ Roadhouse) add three razor sharp comics on a sofa, armed with laser pointers, and rip the hell out of the film.

And so another audience was introduced into the firmly established and thoroughly infantile practices of The Bad Film Club. Created by our hosts ‘Nicko & Joe’ a veteran BFC guest Brendan Burns.

Self-confessed movie geeks they are clearly passionate, near evangelical about their work; spreading the withering word about some of the truly appalling films that have somehow been made.

Audience participation was encouraged, indeed if Swayze was ever caught gazing slightly off camera it was essential to utter, starting low and raising to a crescendo: “Sway-zeeeee!” Jazz hands were optional. Equally, if we found ourselves actually enjoying its true awfulness then a slow hand clap – ideally not co-ordinated – was required.

Their attention to bad detail was awesome and you have to wonder how many times they have subjected themselves to such awful cinema to be able to criticise distant hair crimes almost off camera or a pout from an actress who truly sucked. Presumably to get the fleeting part.

So it was good fun and they kept everyone laughing. However, sadly, and fittingly like a bad movie, the show went on – actually just a bit longer than the movie – an on; it was essentially the same jokes or variations of the same humour hammered home again and again.

The theory would be you could enjoy this show again and again by just substituting another bad movie, but unless it was a film that had some unlikely resonance with me, I suspect I’d rather go and see a good movie.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

BBQ4YOU to say thanks to Garden4You

Wonderfully, the very same sunshine that stayed hidden during the mammoth fencing project that Garden4You carried out here, was blazing down for the thank you barbecue we threw to acknowledge the hard work that Graham Chapple put in over the three day scheme.

He was joined by his ever charming wife Karen, who the more astute and networked among you will know from such reputable companies as Web Build Pro and The Best of Newbury.

We were fortunate to be in the lovely company of our erstwhile friend and fabled combat Monopoly enthusiast Nora.

Essentially it was just an opportunity to express our most sincere thanks to Graham for his hard work earlier this week.

And it was a fine way to spend what seems to be the very first day of summer!

Shazia Mirza at the Newbury Comedy Festival

One of the fruitful pies I have a finger in is comedy reviewing; which essentially putting into words the post performance assessment that most people save for the post performance pub visit.

I used to review a fair bit of stand up, but stood down after I found myself too easily anticipating jokes or wearily recognising a comic formulaic approach to a topic.

Still such insight did lead to me being crowned the 2005 Jongleurs SMART Gagmeister and a trip to the 2006 Montreal Comedy Festival, so not all bad!

However, with staffers at the Newbury Weekly News and its website newburytoday not quite mopping up all the review tickets at this years Newbury Comedy Festival I am actually doing a few reviews over the next week.

My first was last night and readers of this blog get to see it here first!

Shazia Mirza
New Greenham Arts
Friday 7th July 2007

Standing up in that niche market of well known Muslim female comics, Shazia Mirza has blazed a path as an edgy, boundary-trashing performer and indeed she did have a bounty of observations that prompted everything from nervous laughter to guffaws.

However, her performance lacked warmth and to begin with I thought it lacked polish, indeed some comics see summer festivals like ours as an opportunity to fine tune their new Edinburgh shows.

However, by her own admission this was her ‘old’ show; so actually it was just a bit tired and tour weary. No more was this evident than with the contrast when she ad-libbed, picking on audience members for light relief. Then she positively sparkled.

So she was almost lacking conviction as she romped through some clever material that mocked racism from a unique perspective; together was some gasp inducing quips about everything from honour killings to being raped by unlicensed minicab drivers – or being offended if they didn’t try!

Mirza’s problem, and one that a seasoned comic like herself should know, is that a small venue often produces small laughs. However she convinced herself wrongly that her material was too ‘edgy’ for Newbury and was prone to tell us when something was funny if we failed to reward a line with enough laughs

She spent some time reading out the death threats she has received from fellow Muslims that even prompted police protection at earlier gigs, and these perhaps best illustrate how groundbreaking she is; characteristically she dismissed it as ‘honour heckling’

Her show, spilling over the scheduled hour, sadly ended clumsily with a short video that merely illustrated some of her earlier observations; then she grabbed the mic to say goodbye, presumably to a wasted opportunity.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Garden4You Cultivates Great Public Relations

Garden4You have finished the marathon fencing project here at Morgan PR and in spite of the frequent and oft torrential downpour they have finished on time and on budget, ably conquering any of those inevitable problems that pop up along the way!

Taking on the role of catering manager did mean I saw how hard Graham Chapple and his team worked and I'd have no hesitation recommending them for whatever garden service, be it mammoth project or common or garden maintenance (see what I did there?!).

I was also thrilled to have seduced Graham into the delighted of video blogging and just see how polished this performance was at the end of the job - then again it is perhaps the relief shining through. Eitherway I suspect Morgan PR has helped launched a video blogging career!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Garden Services of the Highest Order

With the videocast out of the way the fencing professionals from Garden4You cracked on and put up an amazing amount of fencing - and I'm sure the sunshine that mostly prevailed helped!

Of course, it is not all hard work - at least not when I venture out with appropriate snacks! From bacon butties this morning to exceedingly good cakes this afternoon - below you can see how much Graham was enjoying his.

In all seriousness though, they will be finished tomorrow and it is phenomenal what they have achieved in such a short space of time and in spite of the rain!

Gardening in Hungerford: The Videocast!

The sun has mostly been shining today while the crew from Garden4You carry on with the mammoth fencing project here in Hungerford.

The fence will keep the Morgan PR ceremonial Border Collie from mugging the neighbours and may allow for an expansive of the chicken's run, these are chickens which any day now should start to supply ample enough eggs for me to donate liberally to our clients!

However, perhaps the biggest breakthrough has been getting Graham in front of the video camera for his first ever videocast. Which he completed with aplomb!

Here it is:

Monday, July 02, 2007

Garden4You - Extreme Gardening in Hungerford

Did you see that rain today? Did you see how it made people run for cover? What I saw was the dedicated team from Garden4You slaving away in the torrential downpour at they worked hard erecting a new fence.

I have written about Garden4You and the sterling efforts of its founder Graham Chapple numerous times, and marvelled at the burgeoning testimonials on his website, so it was inevitable that when I needed some fencing done I would ask them - but being a good businessman I did ask for other quotes, but Graham was the most responsive and the most competitive.

So today, in all that rain, they started work and they didn't stop - even when the rain poured, nay when it deluged from the sky - the four strong team kept working and made some cracking progress.

I was only there in the afternoon, but kept them fuelled with tea and cakes, and positively marvelled at the difference their hard work was making. During some brief sunshine I took some 'before' photographs and will publish those later in the week - and contrast them with the no doubt remarkable 'after' shots.

Another marvellous aspect to this job has been the relative ease with which Garden4You has secured so many of the seemingly scarce six foot fence panels required for the 60 metres of fencing they have to replace.

Watching Graham put his skills to work it was hard not to offer some of mine in return, so I have persuaded him to do a make a short video for his own blog.

We will do that tomorrow and I'll be sure to post the video here for you all to see!

Actually, this takes me back to the days when we sold websites before we had our own! So far the only video posted on this blog was the rather amusing one on PowerPoint - which coincidentally Graham commented on!

So I shall be sure to post my own video very soon!

Time Management Advice

Regular readers will recall how much I enthused about Mike Jones and his Personal Productivity Systems in a blog entry back in May and his rather wonderful USP of ongoing support - after all, how often do you attend a course where the provider arranges to see you in a few months to see how you are getting on.

Well earlier today we met up to review how I am getting along - well I'm doing rather splendidly, not least because of the valuable lesson I learned about not over scheduling my time. In a nutshell it is about assuming you will be interrupted and allowing for that to take place.

To be fair, there is a bit more to it than that, and that was were Mike Jones was offering more help - and back to that USP - all this and future support is included in the original, and very reasonable, price of the course.

Now we have already scheduled another review for 10 weeks time to explore how well I have progressed in adopting the principles and processes behind the Personal Productivity Systems.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Life Imitates Art

More comprehensive news junkies may have spotted the story doing the rounds in America about the guy who wakes up with a blinding headache in his Florida home, gets his wife to take him to the hospital... where they find he has been shot in the head!

Mayhem ensures which results in his wife being charged with attempted murder after she admits to 'shooting him by accident' with an illegal firearm kept under her pillow. She then forgets about this, cleans up the mess, hides the gun and plays nurse to her injured hubby. You just know that isn't going to play well in court.

However, what struck me when I read this story, most comprehensively on the BBC News site, was how much it resembled an episode of CSI New York then again, you have to figure that shooting someone in the head normally concludes the crime and you are dealing with a murder rather than a headache, so it is unlikely she was trying to emulate her favourite TV programme. Indeed had she watched a single episode she would have been much more thorough in disposing of forensic evidence!

Actually, CSI and other such programmes, with their near instant results, swift DNA analysis and computer reconstructions, are actually impacting on jury trials. A story from Texas as long ago as 2004 revealed how jurors were expecting so much more from the prosecution because of what they had seen on TV.

Normally the CSIs and especially the Law & Order franchise will borrow heavily from real life crimes to give their plots a freshness that keep the ratings high, but this is a blinding example of life imitating art, albeit unwittingly.