Friday, September 28, 2007

Video Blogging Made Simple for Garden4You

Blogging takes a certain dedication and effort and video blogging even more so, however, when someone else is on hand with the camera and editing software... well that makes it simple!

Garden4You were back at Morgan PR today to tame the near jungle that the corporate gardens have become! And as I did when they erected fencing earlier in the year, I roped Graham Chapple into some video blogging.

It was interesting to hear how much interest the video entries on his blog had created and if you visit it you will see what we did today. Below is a version more about Morgan PR and what we can do to help you video blog!

The Hard Facts on Free Software

We were treated to an interesting 10 minute presentation from Paul Cowie from Rock IT Group, one of our resident computer gurus at the Newbury Business Group, which meets every Friday morning at the Donnington Valley Golf Course.

He was talking about the varieties of free software, from genuine and wholesome freeware through to open source, and then the malware that masquerades as a useful utility to gain access to our computers.

Paul also joked about the initially free software that has been purloined in an act of blatant piracy, but warned that such folk are all too often caught and can be destined for court. As Certified Microsoft Partners Rock IT Group is often inspecting companies to ensure they have the right licences, so he does know what he is talking about.

His list of top and genuine freeware included such gems as the Google Pack as an alternative to MS Office and just about everything else, Get Paint as an alternative to Photoshop and Foxit Reader as a remarkably small and perfectly formed alternative to Adobe Reader.

A full list of his top tips for free software can be found at a microsite he has set up as a trial site for OfficeLive .

Incidentally, Morgan PR will soon have a shiny new laptop after Paul and Rock IT Group stepped in to supply the lightweight Toshiba we had wanted to adopt nice and early, but was proving rather elusive!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Out to Lunch in Newbury

Franchises do many things right, but they do just as many wrong! While they might be recipes for successful enterprise they also all too often represent that inflexibility that comes when companies strive for consistency.

Out to Lunch is the antithesis of the franchise and the owner of the baguette shop in the Kennet Centre in Newbury should know, Michelle Firminger was once a Subway franchisee!

Of course there are some elements that will be in common to ensure consistency of fresh ingredients and the amount of any particular filling that goes in what size baguette; however, every baguette is made fresh to order and while there are suggested fillings, people can truly have whatever they want.

There is her insistence at incorporating VAT into the price if people wish to eat or drink in the shop - most establishments will merrily add VAT to your order the moment you start looking at the furniture.

And then there is the personal service that extends way beyond handing over a freshly made baguette: Michelle and her team can frequently be found looking after heavy shopping bags for customers, running errands and even giving regulars lifts to hospital.

Try getting that kind of service from a franchise!

Michelle and some of her team are pictured below with one of Out to Lunch's fabled buffets.

Monday, September 24, 2007

They Say the Best Things in Life are Free...

...however, companies cannot survive on stagnating cashflows with that problematic matter of salaries, not to mention if they want to expand or invest in new equipment...

Forgive me, Morgan PR was coaxed into a charming insight into everything from factoring to invoice discounting and a myriad of other ways that companies can avoid those cashflow blues, courtesy of Helen Mackenzie from Capital Corporate Finance.

The company is one featuring in the forthcoming edition of the Newbury Business News, out on October 11, and Morgan PR was interviewing Helen for Capital Corporate Finance's profile.

One of three directors Helen has been with the company for 11-years and has seen firsthand how the marketplace has changed. She explained: “When I started out there were effectively only a few funders coming to the market, as few as four or five; now there are some 75 funders out there and they all have something different to offer.

“It used to be a simple case of factoring of invoice discounting, but the marketplace is more sophisticated now and it can be confusing for a company in need of help to know where to look.

“Our typical clients are SME with a turnover of anything from £2 million to £20 million and we place about 100 deals a year in the marketplace and those will relate to a total turnover in excess of £80 million. It makes us a significant player and that in itself helps us find the better deals.”

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mole Mapping in the Thames Valley

I am still chuckling at the friend who seem puzzled when I mentioned I had been photographing a client who offers mole mapping as a service. They thought for a moment and then announced: "They must be very patient, we had moles in our garden and we only ever saw the hills they left behind."

Of course I was actually talking about the moles on your skin, the kind that are behind the UK biggest cause of Cancer and Morgan PR was interviewing and photographing Mike Samuels from Medical Photographic Services.

The company was established last year by Mike Samuels and is a medical photographic practice, covering medico legal, personal injury and pre-cosmetic surgery photography.
Newbury born and bred, Mike Samuels is the former Head of Medical Photography & Illustration at the Royal Free Hospital and University College London Medical School. A registered, qualified medical photographer with 40 years experience, he is an Associate Member of the Institute of Medical Illustrators and has an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate from the Criminal Records Bureau.

Tackling skin cancer was one of the primary motivators behind setting up the company as Mike Samuels explained: “I have worked with Cancer Research UK and they urge us all to ‘know our bodies and be aware of any changes’. However, changes in the skin are probably some of the more difficult ones to notice.

“By having your existing moles photographically recorded and documented by a registered medical photographer such as myself, you will have reassurance that when you visit your doctor they can immediately compare the change you may have noticed and do not have to rely upon your verbal description of what might be a very small, but very significant change.”

We met up at The Wellbeing Centre in Newbury where Mike practices, together with visiting people at home, and took the pictures, including the one above, you see here to reflect his work. They will appear in the forthcoming edition of the Newbury Business News on October 11.

Incidentally, if you do have moles... I can recommend the pest control division of Garden4You!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Trip to See the Dentist

Rarely does a trip to the dentist instill a sense of anticipation, but a group of leading business entrepreneurs from West Berkshire headed north to Birmingham yesterday, to hear a dentist speak.

Okay, this was not just any dentist, this was Dr. Paddi Lund (pictured above with gold plated coffee machine he has in his surgery), the modestly well known business guru who only works part time, only accept patients by referral and charges more than anybody else.

It was rather like a Newbury Business Group field trip with Mark Arrowsmith from Snappy Snaps driving my wife and I, together with Robin Winnett from the Win-IT Consultancy and his newly appointed Operations Director Paul Flight.

It was six (largely unrelenting) hours of Paddi imparting his experience and in turn expertise, but there were some real gems liberally sprinkled through his account of how to do business.

I feel genuinely invested enough not to want to divulge too much of his wisdom, however one of the most interesting things I took away, which like so many was really quite obvious if you stopped and thought about it, was this:

Customers do not judge your expertise on areas they do not understand, but pay attention to the areas they do.

Like I say, kinda obvious, but how true? It neatly comes back to the 'Critical Non-Essentials' that Paddi cherishes - those little things customers take for granted, but taken away have a detrimental impact. It is the supporting cast of good manners, time keeping and so on that may have nothing to do with your core offering, but are essential for people to want it.

There were some clumsy errors for someone who preaches the value of the 'Critical Non-Essentials', We were given workbooks (incidentally, they'd only printed enough for pre-event tickets sales, so those who turned up on the day went without) that did not match the order of the slides he talked about, indeed he kept apologising for them being out of date, but they were labelled 2005. Ample time to update them! Sloppy!

But then this was not your ultra-polished sales pitch. To be honest Paddi honestly does not seem particularly bothered about selling his philosophy as much as he does sharing it. He simply did not push the table of books and other material at the back of the room, nor is his material available anywhere else other than a website in Australia. No Amazon and not even eBay, at least not in recent weeks.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about today though was lunch. Not that Robin bought it, but that it only cost £5.40 for fish and chips for five of us, from a little chippy a few streets away from the Aston Villa ground!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Teaching Assistant Training in West Berkshire

Morgan PR was the official photographers at the Annual Award Ceremony for the successful NVQ candidates who studied with West Berkshire's foremost provider of such courses, Business Training Solutions.

It is the second year we have been on hand to capture the candidates moment with the Mayor when they receive their certificate to acknowledge their hard work over the past year. The majority were Teaching Assistants from various local state and private schools, although there were also business and administration students from both schools and local businesses.

“Candidates have worked very hard to achieve these certificates and we take great pleasure in presenting them” BTS director, Margaret Young told us at the event. “In fact all candidates who started their NVQ, completed successfully and on time, ie 100% retention, completion and achievement.”

As well as receiving ‘A’ grade inspection from OCR for both Business Administration and Teaching Assistants, BTS was also named by the Adult Learning Inspectorate as one of the top 150 training providers in the country.

“We have a number of new candidates already started in September and we look forward to the challenges ahead” says Margo McIver.

The event also marks an exciting moment for Morgan PR - as it coincides with the launch of Morgan PR Photography, a website dedicated to offering for sale both prints and copright for the myriad of images we take. We are adding to the site all the time so do pay a visit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Morgan PR Photography Website Launched

More astute readers will have worked out that Morgan PR has a core offering of PR - Public Relations - and with this comes the myriad of ways to market for a company seeking to raise its profile and increase sales. From websites to mystery shopping.

Naturally part of that involves photography and indeed most days will involve us taking photographs of a client or for a newspaper such as the Newbury Business News. As the 'artist' in copyright law parlance, we own the rights to the photos and do indeed sell both prints and also the reproduction rights to many of our images.

However, there was no formal procedure for this... hence the launch of Morgan PR Photography, a website dedicate to publishing the photographs we take and providing the opportunity for people to order prints and to potentially buy the reproduction right, effectively transferring the copyright.

Gradually we hope to upload a full archive of images and will be contacting those featured to give them the link to view their photographs. Incidentally, the way we will be listing the images means they will help Google recognise these companies!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blackboard Bungle

The erstwhile restaurateur Richard Hayman has been keeping diners entertained at The Madagascan Gin Palace for over 12 years, and in the fickle world of restaurants that is practically a world record achieved through a great atmosphere and some eclectic world cuisine.

However, Morgan PR was at the MGP this morning to watch Richard Hayman serve himself up a hefty slice of humble pie...

You see the the ever charming host made a big mistake earlier this year when he removed the trademark blackboard menus in favour of a more traditional and refinded menu brought to each table. The regulars did not like it and scarcely a service went by with Richard being scolded for removing the boards.

Fortunately Richard is not an Ostrich, prone to sticking his head in the sand. Ostriches are for the menu at the Gin Palace and Richard is all for admitting when he was wrong.

And where better to make such an admission than on the blackboards... a la Bart Simpson style he carefully wrote "I was wrong, the customers are right" on the freshly reinstalled blackboards.

Hence the photograph at the top of the page.

Incidentally, I am grateful to Richard for his hospitality this morning. When he heard I had a couple of appointments in town this morning he offered me the Gin Palace as the perfect venue, although I must confess to feeling rather mafia don-like as people were led upstairs to meet me!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Morgan PR Joins the Newbury Business Group

It is official - Morgan PR has finally joined a breakfast group! We are now rather puffed up and proud members of the Newbury Business Group, which meets on Friday mornings at the Donnington Valley Golf Club in Newbury.

My charming wife, Diane Morgan, is a fellow director of Morgan PR and spends a day a week with the company - mostly Fridays and that means she can do the school run and I can make the most of one of the foremost networking opportunities in West Berkshire - not to mention enjoy breakfast with a great bunch of people.

We had a good 10-minute slot from Chris Turberville-Tully, from copywriters Inspiration Ink, where he talked about the perils of try to feature on Google for the uninitiated. Chris clearly knows his stuff and chatting to him before the meeting I can see how the opportunity for us to work together is destined to arise soon.

Another member is Karen Holmes from Web Build Pro my partner in crime in so many ventures, who maintains the Newbury Business Group website and is just so darn efficient that Morgan PR is already on there!

I have subbed or guested at pretty much all the networking events on offer locally and this group has always been my favourite; they manage to combine a sense of fun with the real business purpose and perhaps most of all, I love the warm welcome they give visitors.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A (not so hard) Working Lunch at The Ibex

Morgan PR first wrote about The Ibex back in May last year, and rather poorly it has taken until today to actually get back to the Chaddleworth pub, which is run by Andy Jones and his wife Julia and has truly become the centre of the village, taking over as the Post Office and the village shop. Just think, a loaf of bread, some stamps and a pint of something other than milk!

Anyway I digress, I was actually meeting with Lucy Venables, erstwhile marketing guru and sometime chef from Red Prosper. Regular readers will recall I subbed for her at a recent BNI meeting. Anyway, The Ibex was determined to be the most equidistant venue for a lunch to explore the synergy between us and our respective businesses.

Focusing was tough though; the landlord Andy, is also a chef and was in the kitchen and we went with his recommendations for lunch and for me that was a mouth-watering and thoroughly meaty steak pie. A simple dish, but so easily abused, Andy had got it spot on.

Good food aside I am sure we shall be working together; some people blur PR and marketing and in some respects they are simply different locations on the same journey. However, there are serious if sometimes subtle differences which mean I hope Morgan PR can use Red Prosper sometime soon, and vice versa.

Incidentally, as a pub name The Ibex is unique and rumours abound over how it go its name, from escaped circus acts through to the landlord's favourite, that a local once had an Ibex as a pet. Even more intriguing, the website Berkshire History records:

There is a curious legal custom in Chaddleworth parish. If a copyholder’s widow remarried, she forfeited her rights to her husband’s lands. However, if she rode into court backwards on the back of a large black ram repeating certain ludicrous lines that end in a petition to give back her lands, the manor steward would be obliged to return them.

How bizarre?

Less surprising is my suspicion that Red Prosper and Morgan PR will find the need for another business meeting again soon, and most likely back at The Ibex.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Blog Birthday Prizes at David Airey Creative Design

With scarcely two months to go until this blog celebrates one year in cyberspace I am in awe to discover one of my favourite blogs is celebrating its first birthday with a monster prize giveaway that will have bloggers tirpping over their keys to enter!

David Airey - Creative Design has been a constant source of inspiration, information and amusement for about three months now and from the slick professionalism and delightful design (he is a guru in logo design though, based in Edinburgh) and I am positively humbled as I languish here on Blogger to discover that he has been going for just a few more months than us!

His own words of wisdom have influence not just what I have written here on this blog, but on my website and indeed advice that Morgan PR has given its clients. And in the true mutual benefits nature of blogging, the people he talks about have also helped us to grow.

To celebrate notching up such an accomplished 12 months David Airey has assembled a $4,000 Giveaway of prizes that will have any blogger, or indeed would be blogger, positively salivating over their mouse!

From logo design through to custom WordPress template design and blog hosting, he has a myriad of prizes that include a blog consultation and interview published on Daily Blog Tips online advertising on some impressive sites, and even free money, and essentially all you need to do is write a blog entry like this and let David Airey know - and you'll be in the prize draw.

If you link to five of the sponsors of this fabulous blogging birthday giveaway you get another entry. So what are you waiting for?!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Does Exactly What is Says on the Cake Tin

I have written about Anne Thomson and her successful Advanced Hypnotherapy practice, Mindset Hypnotherapy many times on this blog and elsewhere, and similarly I have talked about her online business Diets Make You Fat, which kinda does what it says on the cake tin.

I am always thrilled to interview people who have benefitted from either of the services Anne offers and I am delighted to find so many people whose lives have been so transformed that they will happily put their names to such testimonials. With Anne there is none of that dubious 'J from Thatcham' nonsense that everyone suspects that you see on some adverts.

So in writing a piece for a forthcoming magazine I was delighted to find such an enthusiastic review online; Praise for Anne’s CD course comes from Lisa Clark on the – ‘the website dedicated to making people feel good.’

Lisa writes:

“Shall I tell you what I like already? The programme doesn’t try to patronise me. It doesn’t tell you to eat healthily, to cut out processed foods or to take more exercise, because if you, like me, have tried to lose weight before, chances are you know all those things anyway, right?

“This is a step-by-step process to change the way your mind works, forever, which is why, when Anne told me to dump the scales, well, I didn’t need telling twice, this may prove difficult in updating you in actual weight-loss stats, but then that isn’t what the programme is about.

“Instead, I’ll let you know how practical this programme actually is when faced with eating out and being tempted to order the biggest dessert on the menu, or when you want to reach for the biscuit tin for comfort. Will I really be able to control my eating forever? Can re-programming my mind really help me to lose weight?

“So far, so good."
You can read Lisa's full review here and no doubt keep track of her progress.