Friday, November 30, 2007

One to One Coaching with ActionCoach

One of the most valuable benefits of being part of an ActionCoach Profit Club is the one to one sessions with your Business Coach. Morgan PR belong to the Faringdon group, run by Sally Rainbow - Ockwell.

Sally visited us today and we reviewed the progress that we have been making since our return from the Brad Sugar's seminar in Las Vegas. The main task we are now embarking on is to put down on paper on personal and business goals for 2008. Any of the 90 Day goals we set during the year should serve these 12 month goals.

As a guide, if you know exactly how you will get there, they are not stretching enough! They have to be exciting or scary, or both. We look forward to setting these and then building towards them with our 90 day goals next year. It's going to be a fabulous 2008!

Have you set goals for 2008?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mind the Gaffe - Tube Announcer Fired

This photo is of Emma Clarke the until recently largely anonymous face behind the voice of the London Underground; 'mind the gap' and so on.

This photo was taken by the photographer Laurie Fletcher, one of a series of pictures of hithertoo anonymous voices, unveiled at an exhibition in August.

Perhaps Emma Clarke should have taken it as a warning her anonymity would not survive such exposure, for after in a piece in the Mail on Sunday where sher reported vowed not the travel by Tube her bosses fired her.
Being the voice she was ideally positioned to mimic herself too and had already posted spoof example of Tube announcements on her website.

Such gems as:
"Would the passenger in the red shirt pretending to read the paper
but who is actually staring at that woman's chest please stop. You are not fooling anyone, you filthy pervert."

"Would passengers filling in answers on their Sudokus please accept that they are just crosswords for the unimaginative and are not in any way more impressive just because they contain numbers."

"Here we are crammed again into a sweaty Tube carriage. ... If you're female, smile at the bloke next to you and make his day. He's probably not had sex for months."

All very funny and in her distinctive voice all the funnier. You might have to wait to listen to them though, Clarke's website has buckled under the deluge of dowloaders who have swooped to listen to the mp3s in the wake of this story. Although if you take a look at BBC News they are playing it too.

When you drill down into the copy the really interesting part is how the honey-toned Clarke is actually claiming the Mail on Sunday misquoted her. She claims she said words to the effect it would be dreadful to travel by Tube if it meant she kept hearing herself. Very different and probably not worthy of a sacking!

Absolutely she was unwise for speaking to the Mail - or very clever as she will be in greater demand now. So much so when London Underground decide she was wrongly sacked they will more than likely be unable to woo her back.

However, the moral is for London Underground. They have been widely and variously quoted by the world's media and universally seem a bit harsh. It would have been better to have kept comments brief while an investigation was carried out and slowed down this runaway train.

But then that would presume they spoke to a decent PR consultant before jumping on to the live rail.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Refreshing Approach from a Truly Super Market

Asked what kind of shop might qualify as a ‘hidden treasure’ people would be forgiven for not thinking of a 5,000 square foot supermarket in the heart of Wash Common in Newbury; however this independently owned branch of Budgens is not your typical supermarket.

Writing another feature for the 'Hidden Treasures' feature in next month's Newbury Business News brought me to Budgens where I discovered the transformation had begun in July last year when the store was bought by Mike Estlea, a man who understands that the customer comes first and that there is a place for a local supermarket that cares for its community.

He was honest and welcoming and I gained a fascinating insight into the business, although I perhaps remain most impressed by some thoroughly community minded action in the run up to November 5th.

Fireworks are very lucrative for retailers and clearly many look no further than the bottom line, but Mike Estlea took a different view and refused to sell fireworks, lest they be improperly used and upset local residents, his customers.

Better still on Halloween they introduced an ‘Over 18’ rule on the sale of eggs. Incidentally, at least 80% of those eggs come from local suppliers, like a growing range of products in store.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Out & About & Looking Good!

Do you recall earlier this month I wrote about Artifax, well the fruits of that labour were published yesterday in the Out & About magazine, published by the Newbury Weekly News.

The close up of the bronze meerkat statue has worked really well. Anyway, here is the page:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Uniquely Named Fifi & Moose

If you will allow me a sweeping generalisation, I believe that in business there are broadly speaking two kinds of owners: those who get it and those who don't. The former are likely to succeed and the latter may, but it will be in spite of themselves - and they will not have nearly as much fun.

Someone I think 'get's it' is Ali Goodman, the owner of the uniquely named 'Fifi & Moose' boutique in Weavers Walk, Newbury.

A former manager of Monsoon and Waud in Newbury, Ali had some very clear ideas when she launched the shop earlier this year . She explained: “I wanted a distinctly different shopping atmosphere which is friendly and relaxed, where there is no pressure.

“We are spread over two floors and the stock is constantly changing so customers are always surprised. We understand perfectly just how much women like to shop but also offer help to those who find it difficult putting their own look together. Customer service is a real focus for us and our team offer a friendly and warm welcome.

“It is about being on trend rather than high fashion. There is so much throw away fashion out there today but we like to endorse quality, our clothes are an investment.

Fifi & Moose is one of the 'Hidden Treasures' I have been learning so much about over the past week as Morgan PR writes about businesses that rightly or wrongly earn the title. This is a store that deserves to be found - although I know a few husbands who would strongly disagree with me!

And where does that name come from?

“Everyone asks that, but honestly, there is no story. Except everyone names boutiques after themselves and I wanted something different, something a bit more fun that people would comment on and most importantly remember... no-one can forget Fifi & Moose!”

Pork Favourite Christmas Meat: Say Turkeys!

Much of the time I am inclined to applaud and often comment on the wise words of Graham Jones, internet psychologist, however I am still retrieving my eyebrows from the loftier regions of my forehead after this post.

Entitled 'Email Marketing has yet to achieve anything' Graham reveals how a survey has revealed that British consumers would rather receive marketing direct mail than email. So that is junk mail rather than spam.

Leaving aside wondering how many people would rather receive neither, I was tickled to see that the survey that had discovered this preference for direct mail had be carried out for the Insitute of Direct Marketing. Gosh! Really?

I'm sorry, such cynicism. But honestly, can you ever imagine the direct mail industry putting out a release explaining what percentage of people had been irritated by poorly targeted direct mail? Or how many trees it takes to achieve the miniscule percentage conversion rate that makes direct mail pay?

Mandy Rice Davis, she of the 1963 Profumo Affair, is often misquoted as saying: "He would say that wouldn't he." She actually said in reply to a question in court as to why Lord Astor had denied meeting her: "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" But you get my sentiment!

Besides, at Morgan PR we have found that email marketing works very well and is more cost effective than direct mail. Of course, regardless of what method you use, it will always be the quality of your target that dictates return on investment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Wee Dram Room

Possibly the most enticing corner of any store in Newbury is The Dram Room, and indeed if you were a whisky drinking photographer then you might just have gone to heaven!

The Dram Room is one of the 'Hidden Treasures' in the forthcoming Newbury Business News next month and Morgan PR popped in there today and was positively awestruck by the array of around 100 different whiskies.

Situated in Cheap Street, The Dram Room is within T4 Cameras, hence my quip about photographer partial to the odd drop!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Accessory Queen Extends Her Kingdom

The Accessory Queen has celebrated its second birthday with style by expanding its kingdom in Newbury over another floor in its Northbrook Street store and introducing new fashions - and Morgan PR was on hand to turn this anniversary into an opportunity to gain some publicity.

We had visited the store's founder Sarah Burke as the company is advertising in a forthcoming edition Newbury Weekly News. It was during this that Sarah mentioned the birthday and in that way that Morgan PR spots the public relations opportunities and with a little luck she should receive some publicity for the milestone very soon.

Bubbling with enthusiasm she told me: “It is hard to believe two years has gone by already,” said the true Accessory Queen, Sarah Burke. “It has been so much fun and we are delighted with our expansion. We truly are a one stop shop for women now. We have shoes – again many of which you cannot find elsewhere, hats, gloves, scarves, bags and jewellery."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gaining Leverage in Business can be Fun

One of the training aids from Action Coach which I confess to having been somewhat dubious about was the board game ‘Leverage’, which always seemed to be a more complicated version of Monopoly. Well it is, but today I discovered that it is rather a fun way to be reminded of some important business lessons!

Our good friend Nora was visiting and having pioneered ‘Combat Monopoly’ was keen to join us in our inaugural game of ‘Leverage’. So with (Lord Nelson liqueur fittingly in hand - it was presented to us by the founder of the Hebridian Liqueur Company after we met at the Brad Sugars event in Las Vegas) steely determination we unpacked the game and set about playing.

Essentially you make your way around the board trying to build up cashflow through the traditional methods of increasing your prospects, conversion rate, products per customer sold, margin and so on, with a spinning dial determining the percentage increase you had won with, for instance, an advertising campaign.

It was getting rather complicated – and the Lord Nelson liqueur was rather good. So Diane had a brainwave: use Excel on the laptop, so a few minutes of programming later and managing our ‘Leverage’ accounts became a whole lot easier!

You also need to achieve a level of competence in four key areas: Accounting/Testing and Measuring, Systems & Technology, Delivery and Distribution and People & Education. These you have to buy – think ‘invest in’ - to achieve a certain level before you can win, no matter how good your cashflow.

In the event we ran out of time before reaching a natural conclusion; so we opted to score with a combination of cashflow and expertise achieved. I narrowly won, which seemed a vote in favour of building up cashflow before investing in infrastructure! But surely your cashflow increases more rapidly with systems in place?!

I’m not entirely convinced that in trying to explain the fun to be had in playing ‘Leverage’ that I haven’t convinced everyone reading this that it is just complicated Monopoly! But trust me, once you have that spreadsheet running to do the math, it is a breeze!

Friday, November 16, 2007

NRG giving!

Morgan PR went along today to the NRG Business Networks meeting at Wokefield Park as guests of ActionCoach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell. This proved to be a very well organised meeting, starting with delicious coffee and pastries and moving on to a useful Lead Generation seminar. A tasty lunch followed, and conversation with other NRG members.

Sally had described NRG as 'grown-up' networking and we could see what she meant; the more laid back nature of a lunch session allowed for a better opportunity to chat to people and discover more about them and their services than a breakfast normally allows. Then again, which of these meals eats less into the working day?

The members were very welcoming and it was an extremely pleasant way to do business. We will visit the Swindon meeting before making our minds up, as the geography suits us slightly better, but joining up to this innovative and forward thinking group at one or other location will definately be one of Morgan PR's New Year Resolutions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Source for the News Good for a Gander

The self-styled Internet Psychologist Graham Jones is one of my favourite bloggers and can regularly be found telling us things that it will take the masses a long time to log on to.

Regular readers will know that it was this blogger that convinced Morgan PR to launch this blog in October 2006 - yes, over a year ago - and we have mentioned him numerous and he has done the same for us, both of which have always tickled Google's fancy.

Yesterday he posted an entry: Blogging will get your business more media attention which talks about a study that has found 74% of business journalists now use blogs or will use blogs as a source of information for stories.

This news does not surprise me. Journalists will routinely rely upon Google for finding sources and a good blog will quickly be found - and where are worth their weight is how much more realistic the conversational style of a well written blog is compared with the jargon riddled press releases that companies insist of deluging newspapers with.

A blog is brimming with quotes ready to be cut and pasted into a story. When I wrote about the media furore around the 16-year-old Police Community Support Officers who had joined Thames Valley Police, in my capacity as a former TVP press officer, the Sunday Express picked it up and had a 'former Thames Valley Police spin doctor has slammed...' story courtesy of Google. The story did not appear in the end, but I know how keen they are because they contacted me to clarify details. Such is the power of a blog.

I will urge all my clients to consider blogging and freely advise those who ask about blogging and whether it is worth it, that it truly is. This blog has in itself been a revenue stream with stone cold clients in waiting finding the blog through a combination of Google and blog search engines like Technorati, my own Morgan PR website and recommendation. The blog is a sales script in waiting that can introduce someone to our breadth of service and by the time they contact us many have already decided to use Morgan PR.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tales of the Unexpected

How can you delight your customers and get them recommending you to all their customers, friends and family?

This was the question addressed at the training session following the Faringdon Profit Club this morning, run by ActionCoach Sally Rainbow- Ockwell. Entitled 'Creating Raving Fans', the session covered how we can take a new look at the services we provide our customers and ensure we can provide both consistency and a 'wow' factor to what we do.

Sally also talked about Dr Paddi Lund, a dentist from Brisbane, Australia. Morgan PR heard Paddi speak a couple of months ago and are working on incorporating many of his philosophies into our business. His books are well worth a look for any business owner; they concentrate on the aspects of the business that often get overlooked, but can make such a difference when they are there.

Happy Birthday, Profit Club!

The Profit Club in Faringdon, run by ActionCoach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell, was one year old today. This was suitably celebrated with a buffet lunch and champagne, shared by Profit Club members and invited guests.

Sally took the opportunity to present her first annual awards after the lunch. Nick Evans of Safewell was the first to receive a prize for just how far he has developed his business, having had the foresite to joining the Profit Club just weeks after setting up his company.

It was with surprise and delight that Nigel had to hand over the camera to our guest Karen Chapple of irun WebBuild Pro, as he received his prize for the Profit Club member who has given most to other members over the past year. As many of you will know, Nigel is very generous with his time and advice and it was very kind of Sally to recognise this.

The top award went to Julie Farmer of myPA for the amazing changes that she has made both in her business and personally over the past year. I saw this change in Julie during her 60 second presentation earlier that morning; wow, she was so confident and relaxed, something I'm sure comes from being focussed and sure of where she is going.

Oh yes, and that picture of Morgan PR's award winning Managing Director with Sally Rainbow-Ockwell:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Blue Orchid and the Critical Non-Essentials

What a fabulous name that would be for a band? Thankfully it is also a suitably intriguing title for today’s blog post.

To clarify, The Blue Orchid is a Thai restaurant in Marlborough, Wiltshire, which we visited on Saturday evening with our good friends and talented entrepreneurs, Robin and Judy Winnett, and the Critical Non-Essentials (Or CNEs) are those little touches that while not essential to a business, can ultimately dictate its success or failure.

I wrote about Paddi Lund the guy who coined the concept of CNEs in a blog entry after a group of us went to see the Brisbane dentist live in Birmingham. Throw in the Brad Sugars event in Las Vegas which talked about the ‘common sense mistakes’ and it is little wonder that ever since it has been easy for Morgan PR to spot where businesses fall short on their CNEs.

Leaving aside the food, which was pretty good if rather small portions – not as good as the Siam Orchid in Andover but better than The Old Thai House in Newbury, which is still finding its feet. So it comes down to the supporting acts.

Disappointing was the intermittent topping up of wine. Now don’t think I’m not afraid to top up my own wine, I just feel that if someone starts then they should carry on; here it was done if someone thought to do it.

Poor to the point of complaint (if we were not frightfully British!) was the response when we asked for them to call us a taxi. It turns out they do not do that. It is ‘too difficult’. However, we were free to use their phone if we wanted to try! (In the event we walked out and picked up a taxi without any problem!).

Excellent was the way the same waiter who could not help with the taxi order positively shone with a unique flourish I’ve not seen before. Rather than pop the piping hot towelettes on the tables for us to pluck and juggle, he neatly tore each one open and presented them in turn. So we did not have to fiddle with those wrappers. How excellent was that?

Rather nice was the helping on with jackets as we left – imagine the impact of this quality departure if it had followed an entirely positive experience?

The restaurant has been ‘under new management since 12 July’, as a notice informed us, so maybe it too is finding its feet.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Putting a Framer in the Frame

Morgan PR has a fun photographic job today – we seem to have done rather well this week for such projects, because Capital Corporate Finance was more fun than I am sure is technically allowed; this morning I was at Artifax, the picture framing shop that is also brimming with unique and original artwork and gifts.

Owner Jean Ince had made me very welcome earlier in the week when we met to discuss a feature we had been commissioned to write for her advertisement in the forthcoming edition in the Newbury Weekly News leisure magazine Out & About.

This is a business that puts the customer at the fore and I’ve no doubt the warmth expressed to me is something that every visitor to the store enjoys.

Power Breakfast at Newbury Business Group

For a few weeks now yours truly has opted for the fruit when I attend the Newbury Business Group on a Friday morning.

All very noble you might think and indeed, the average nature of the ‘full English’ should make switching to fruit an easy choice; however, the fruit arrives diced. Imagine the individual sized pieces that a youthful tortoise might require and you are in the right area.It also seems to take an age to arrive.

So much so people joke about the fruit being freshly imported – once it has been ordered. The problem has gotten worse with the town’s foremost networking group’s burgeoning popularity.

When members and guests are growing in number week on week, the food (not least the rabbit food) is taking longer and longer to arrive.So when it got to my one minute this morning and most people were pushing their plates aside, I was still waiting for one to arrive.

So I launched into a remarkably good natured account of how Morgan PR was working on a story about how long it would take for me to get my breakfast...And as if by magic the waitress appeared with my plate of severely chopped fruit.
“That,” I said. “Is the power of PR!”
Of course, don’t let a slow breakfast service put you off what is a cracking group, not just from the referrals that members bring one another, but the collaborative work that goes on among members too.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Far from Frosty Reception for Property Press Release

Content aside, public relations is as much about timing as target; get the timing wrong and the most carefully crafted press release can end up in the bin – and in our email age the recycle bin and worst still with a junk mail rule if it’s inconvenient arrival irks a news editor.

With websites the timing matters much less than with print or broadcast media, but ensuring the release is actually still a news story remains paramount.

A press release for Morgan PR client, lettings agent County Property Management about how Michelle Monahan is warning her tenants about the dangers of freezing temperatures that will soon grip West Berkshire was sent out in ample time for next week’s Newbury Weekly News’ Property News.

It was also sent to the paper’s online property website Living in West Berkshire. We will see next week if the newspaper publishes the story, but Living in West Berkshire published the story online within a matter of minutes of receiving the press release.

The lesson here is to recognise that websites, by their dynamic and immediate nature, often welcome press releases; but always remember they need to be not only well written, but also a story.

Have You Got a Minute?

Those networkers amongst you could well start spotting some dynamic, all new and improved one minute presentations at your various meetings very soon.

Business people from across West Berkshire and the Thames Valley attended the FSB One Minute Masterclass, organised by Michelle Lucas of GreenFields life and executive coaching and run by ActionCoach Sally Rainbow- Ockwell earlier today at the very swish, indeed Michelin recommended lsq2 brasserie at GreenPark in Reading.

It was cappuchinos and lattes all round as a curious crowd gathered to find out how to improve their pitch when standing jelly-legged in front of other entrepeneurs.
With some killer tips dished out by Sally it was left to Lucy Venables of Red Prosper and my fellow director and husband, Nigel went first to show us how it should be done.

Working in couples and groups, confidence soon grew and by the end, the nerve wracking ordeal that is public speaking seemed slightly less daunting.

So look out for the polished pitches coming to a meeting near you soon!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fun Photography Can Mean Business

How's this for a happy corporate picture? Morgan PR captured the cheerful trio from Capital Corporate Finance earlier today.

We had written about the finance company previously for a business publication as well as on this blog and also taken a photograph of Helen Mackenzie (pictured above centre) and that led to a request to take photographs of the three directors for a variety of different publications and media.

Helen, Ross Smith and Carole Roe were good fun to work and keen to have their pictures taken. Honestly it made this a much easier job than those were staff are told I'm taking their photo!

And just to show you that it wasn't all laughter in every photograph, another shot below.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hat Will Do Nicely

After shoes at the top end of Hungerford High Street, Morgan PR switched to hats at the other end of town when we spent some time with Jane Corbett today, to offer advice about PR and marketing.

Jane runs a beautiful shop in Hungerford, Jane Corbett Millinery, packed with beautiful, hand made hats and headdresses. The shop is a real treat for the eyes, as each place you look you see more of her gorgeous, unique pieces. The walls are decorated with hand painted designs and it has the feel of a decedent boudoir; the rush and traffic of the high street outside seems to fade away.

Delightfully, Jane herself takes pride in offering a bespoke service to each client. She explores their needs and can dye silks, straw and feathers to exactly match outfits and meet requirements. A visit to her would make any lady feel truly pampered.

Jane has plans to develop her business, which are under wraps until spring next year (you'll notice we avoided the 'keeping it under our hats' pun!). Suffice to say that there will be even more reasons to visit!

Public Relations in Hungerford

Morgan PR offers public relations throughout West Berkshire and the Thames Valley, still, it is always nice to serve clients much closer to home - and this morning we were with Hungerford shoe magnate Ellie Dickins.

We have written about Ellie many times in the past and taken photographs too, so it was nice to be taking it to the next level and we will be working with her across her two shops and three brands: Ellie Dickins, Dickins for Men and Diddy Dickins and using the range of services we can provide; from public relations and marketing through to web marketing and search engine optimisation and graphic design.

Ellie already enjoys a strong market presence and a reputation that goes far beyond the market town where she is based.

We will be working with her to capitalise on this to improve brand awareness and ultimately increase sales; sometimes public relations is done for its own sake, but mostly it will always be about increasing sales and that is something that Morgan PR fully understands.

So look forward to hearing more about the work we are doing with Ellie Dickins very soon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Best Christmas Shop in Newbury

The Christmas lights have been twinkling in shops for far too many weeks already, however, it was a trip to Tiger Tiger in Bartholomew Street Newbury, that has gotten Morgan PR into the festive frame of mind – although we were actually putting Tiger Tiger into the frame with some festive photography!

There is a wonderful vintage feel to Tiger Tiger this Christmas; vintage gold and silver baubles sparkle and Newbury’s premier independent lifestyle shop seems to sparkle like a precious jewel as it welcomes shoppers tempted by the myriad of delights inside.
It is the delightfully eclectic mixture of gifts and concepts that has won Tiger Tiger legions of near evangelical enthusiasts and draws in new converts every single day. Chosen by owner Allison Brook and buyer Tracey Avery, the diverse range of products has something to appeal to everyone.
Morgan PR has been writing and photographing Allison and Tiger Tiger for some four years now and it is fantastic to see someone realise so much in the competitive retail market.

And I mean it about Christmas at Tiger Tiger; seriously, this is the most Christmassy place this side of Santa’s Grotto – and obviously I mean the real one!