Thursday, January 31, 2008

Brewery Raises the Bar

Not being someone who will juggle drinking and driving, it was a sadly sober visit to the West Berkshire Brewery today - but it was soon livened by by the colourful Dave Maggs, who is clearly passionate about his ales.

While the product is perfect in the eyes of many, it is the enthusiasm of Dave and his team at the West Berkshire Brewery who drive the company forward amid a closed shop of brewery-owned pubs that frown on free enterprise. Thankfully there are plenty of pubs who do stock their ales, but there could always be more.

It is crazy to think this thriving, but distinctly small brewery, will soon be the largest in Berkshire when Courage leave Reading, but as anyone who has enjoyed the specialist brews conjured up in Yattendon will tell you, big isn't necessarily better and small is beautiful!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Atkins and Potts, a local delicacy

Readers who are passionate about the finer tasting foods in life will already be familiar with the Atkins and Potts brand, not to mention the mouth-watering taste of their marvellous condiments, speciality sauces and so much more - but did you know the company is in Ball Hill, near Newbury?

It is tempting to enjoy the product and be ignorant of its origins, but we can relish the presence of this family run business on our doorstep in north Hampshire.

Recently a friend visited and proudly unveiled a delicious chocolate spread she had uncovered at a gourmet shop in London and was stunned to know it had been created just a few miles away.

Morgan PR first encountered Atkins and Potts a couple of years ago, but they have grown tremendously since then, soaring from 20 customers in the UK to more than 750 both here and abroad.

It was a real treat to be back there today and to discover how successful they have become and what a bright future they have. Soon you will be able to buy their foods online.

'Where can you buy their products now?' I hear you cry. For a start Thames Valley Meats, just across the courtyard from Atkins and Potts in Ball Hill, offers a selection. So does Dunbar’s Delicatessen and Highclose Farm Shop in Hungerford, Church Street Fisheries in Kintbury, NJ Richards Butchers in Lambourn while in Newbury products are sold at JusBar, Griffins Butchers, Nature’s Corner and Budgens; and the list of suppliers is growing all the time.

If you have tried their products we would love to hear your views! Why not add a comment?

Pictured below are managing director Lindsay Atkins with her son and fellow director Adrian Atkins in the company's development kitchen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Miracle of Planning

How many days are wasted waiting for those deliveries that never come? So you will understand my skepticism after boldly attempting to have a plethora of workman and parcels all at home on the same day...

I mean, I was confident that Graham Chapple and the team from Garden4You would be on time for the erection of a new front fence (and my near legendary bacon butties have nothing to do with this!) and also that Cablewise, fellow clients of Action Coach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell would also turn up to install some new telephony.

However, so too did Ikea and several couriers, to the extent that everything was done and dusted within three hours!

Luck? Judgment?Or did fortune favour the brave effort by me to plan?

It was been suggested that it was a forgone conclusion as I applied the same project management techniques Morgan PR uses do to deliver some of the larger projects we handle - which is probably true, but less fun than thinking I beat the fickle hand of fate!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

I was first introduced to Susan Jeffer's brilliant book "Feel the fear and do it anyway" last year on a development course. It has proved very useful to me, full of wise advise advice and a push to action. It is largely responsible for me making the leap from paid employment to running Morgan PR with Nigel (that and the sage advise and guidance of ActionCoach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell)

As an avid fan, I subscribe to Susan's newsletters and it was these that advised me of the teleconference Susan was holding this evening. After listening to Susan talk about life and her experiences, there was an opportunity for those of us listening to ask questions. Feeling no small amount of fear, but determined to do it anyway, I decided to ask Susan's advice on parenting. Her kind, funny response just confirmed to me that she deserves all the plaudits she receives.

So for anyone looking for genuine, realistic advice, gained through experience, Susan's books would certainly earn their place on your bookshelf.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Above and beyond?

Morgan PR was down the East End today, not that one, but an altogether more leafy and gentile village in north Hampshire and home to Brunsden Associates, erstwhile estate agents who have long shunned the traditional High Street environs favoured by such folk.

While establishing what we would write about, one of those delightful little tales emerged which I absolutely knew was worth of submission to the 'Local Chit Chat' column in the Newbury Weekly News - home of quirky, quaint, opinioned and bewildered comments.

So to coincide with the forthcoming feature on Brunsden Associates I have written this Chit Chat:

The estate agents Brundsen Associates pride themselves on going the extra mile, not least being prepared to solve problems when many would have long gone home, however one dark and blustery evening last week a lorry laden with bales of hay clipped the agent’s sign hung outside the office in East End and left it dangling precariously over the road. Within minutes it was not the only thing swaying in the breeze as Peter Brunsden scaled a hastily borrowed ladder to reattach the sign lest it drop on to passing traffic.

Above and beyond surely?

Monday, January 14, 2008


A report on the Guardian website this morning explores proposal for the police to use text messages and telephone calls to try and get suspects to incriminate themselves in rape cases; a practice commonplace in many American states but seemingly untested here.

Actually, using a phone call to try and get a suspect to incriminate themselves is not unheard of and I can recall one case that spanned my time as a crime reporter and then later as a press officer for Thames Valley Police. Admittedly it was a bit more complicated than a he said, she said case.

Rhonda Kay vanished from her Craven Road home in Newbury in November 1992 and was initially treated as a missing person, although when it came to light her husband, Nick Kay, had been having an affair with the lodger, Karin Scott, it was feared she had been murdered.

Investigations drew a blank, however the case was later re-investigated and a plan hatched to trick Nick Kay into talking about his wife’s disappearance.

However it took Home Office approval before the police could first bug his house and then used a phone call from Rhonda’s sister – saying his missing wife’s body had been found – to lure him into talking about it after the call, which of course was caught on tape and led to a manslaughter conviction. You can read more about that case here.

Concerns rest over a suspect not being warned of their rights; yet surely no-one incriminates themselves for a rape they have not committed? More likely there would be questions over whether they had been the one on the telephone or replying by text message.

The Guardian does make the case that the tool would be used immediately after a rape was reported rather than a long time after the event.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

newbury today now available on facebook

Ah the secret of great comedy! A couple of days ago Morgan PR wrote about Netteam Consultants, a local company helping businesses stop their employees wasting their time on such social notworking sites as facebook.

Today I notice that newbury today has established a group on said notworking site. It should be pointed out that newbury today is the online sister of the Newbury Weekly News, publishers of the Newbury Business News - which on Thursday this week will feature the story about companies trying to discourage employees from surfing their day away!

What better justification could there be for visiting newbury today's group on facebook than to keep on to of all interesting news in Newbury?

Presumably this means you get to 'poke' a journalist if you have a story?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Where are you going this year?

We have written before about the brilliant networking and coaching group that is the Faringdon Profit Club. Today was our 90 day planning seminar with ActionCoach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell.

As we set our BHA (big, hairy and audacious! that's a technical term!!!) goals for 2008, we came to realise that we may well need some help in stretching as far as we want to go. After some SWOT - ing (most of you will know this stands for looking at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of any situation), we decided that we'd approach Sally and ask if she would become Morgan PR's one-to-one business coach.

So, we are now both extremely excited at the unlimited possibilities which are in front of us. We'll keep you posted the developments and our progress. We will still be attending Profit Club and, as always, anyone who would like to come as our guest will be made very welcome.

Friday, January 04, 2008

facebook and the Art of Social Notworking

Morgan PR was back at Netteam Consultants earlier today to learn more about the company's work helping companies combat the evils of social networking - or social not-working as I so wish I'd dubbed it!
There are some startling figures bandied around about how many hours are lost to employees who would rather surf than work and understandably facebook is its worst with its myriad of bizarre applications that allow for everything from biting your online friends like a vampire through to sending them virtual fish for a virtual aquarium. Bytes go back and forth and work suffers.
We've written about Netteam before and it was good to catch up but with millions logged on to facebook there was no time to waste!

Technical Director, Christian Barnett, explained: “A recent survey showed that workers spending too much time on social networking sites, such as facebook, are costing employers a staggering £130 million a day. And the problem looks set to become much worse if businesses do not act – and fast. That survey showed facebook growing at 125% year on year and already that figure is likely to be higher than that.

“The survey found that some 233 million hours are lost every month to employees surfing the net, with social networking causing the greatest concern. It is a fact that these websites are very addictive and can often result in users remaining on sites for hours rather than minutes, or even remaining continuously logged on."

However, lost time was only part of the problem. He added: “There are actually bigger implications than simply the lost time wasted online; employees can be downloading music or movies from illegal sites to your servers, pornography and of course malicious programmes that are going to damage your system.

“While the majority of businesses appreciate the need to scan incoming emails for viruses and malware, but in reality the same threats can enter your system through a website and currently an estimated 20% of such attacks come from websites and that figure is certain to grow."

Netteam can help businesses deal with the problem through its partnership with Opal and provision of the WebController and MailController software and you can discover more in the forthcoming edition of the Newbury Business News on 17th January.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Slow Motion Adverts Might Work on Sky+

For those of us invested in the online world - and I do not mean 'Second Life' or 'World of Warcraft' - there is an interesting report out from media buyers Group M this week that I have just read about at The Guardian website.

In a nutshell it predicts that the UK will be the first economy to see advertising spend online exceed the huge amounts spent on television promotion.

This says as much about the strength of the web as it does about the way people view television and how ever more people are spuring adverts when they watch TV; either through downloads or as many with Sky+ do by simply sprinting forward through any pesky ads that show up.

Some years ago I suggested to an advertising friend in London that someone should create a slow motion silent advert that would run at normal speed when whizzed through on Sky. Pick a less popular but demographically appropriate channel for cost effectiveness and see what happens? I for one would have my curiousity piqued if an advert suddenly appeared normal when I was trying to fast forward through it!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pebbles Unisex Hair & Beauty Salon Opens

Together with public relations in West Berkshire, Morgan PR also provides web solutions and we pride ourselves on offering first class web design too.

A project we started work on before Christmas that came to fruition earlier today was a website for a brand new venture in Newbury: Pebbles Unisex Hair & Beauty Salon is set to buck the trend for such salons to be in the High Street and instead offers spacious facilities, positively huge treatment rooms and plenty of free parking from a prime spot just away from the town centre in Faraday Road, Newbury.

We have had great fun working with owners Steve and Theresa Fish and have seen their vision emerge from running Harpers Hair & Beauty in Market Street, Newbury - which was small and had limited potential - to realising the dream of creating Pebbles in empty space adjacent to the One Stop service centre that Steve also runs.

We were shown around cold empty rooms as he animatedly said what would go here and how this area would be transformed. Well, the result is astounding and testimony to what can be achieved when someone puts their mind to it.

Pebbles is now, without doubt, one of the finest hair and beauty salons in West Berkshire and we are delighted to have created a website worthy of this new venture. A site which reflects its values and approach to customer service.

Please do visit the Pebbles website, but also you absolutely must visit the salon too - whether for a haircut, colouring or massage.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008