Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Failing to plan...

No-one at Newbury Racecourse today was planning to fail, as we took part in an ActionCoach 90 day planning session.

This day was run by 10 coaches from the SouthCentral region, so we had people travelling from the north and south to spend their day planning the next three months for their business.

This lively day was kicked off by some questions which really made you think about where your business was going and how you want to get there.

The next session involved breakout sessions and Morgan PR attended a brilliant session on marketing run by Mike McGuire, which left me brimming over with ideas, some for Morgan PR and some for our clients.

After lunch, it was time to put on thinking caps and map out how we plan to reach our goals in the next 90 days. Working with Sally Rainbow- Ockwell as our business coach ensures that we will be kept accountable for meeting these goals and gives us support and guidance for the steps we will need to take to get there.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't leave your profits hanging on the telephone

Morgan PR has been writing a double page feature on many of the businesses based in the Sterling Industrial Estate in Hambridge Road, Newbury, for the forthcoming edition of Newbury Business Today, out on May 8th

We have already written about many of the businesses here in the past, and it was good to see so many still thriving, not least as the estate has been earmarked for development for more than two years now.

The majority of the businesses are automotive or light industrial, but the exception is Datasharp, a company that is committed to lowering phone costs for its clients, through more competitively priced line rental, hardware and call charges.

With the current economic climate prompting some businesses to wonder how to haul in their belts a notch or two, your phones are probably worth consideration and especially so if you have not reviewed your charges within the last couple of years.

Morgan PR arrived to find Managing Director Michael Dixon addressing the troops, or to be more specific the sales team, so rather than contrive a photograph it was more a case of shoot first and ask questions later. There was no denying this company's commitment to serving its clients.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Economist ads target 'curious' readers

Have you seen the new advertising campaign for the Economist? The news magazine has been dropping on to the mat at Morgan PR for close to a year now and I would happily recommend the publication to anyone interested in looking for clear and concise coverage of national and international events and some insightful commentary.

The ad campaign is designed to provoke those who think the magazine is just the preserve of academia that the truth is rather different.

Clever advert too!

There is some a story about the advertising campaign in today's edition of the Guardian.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Banking on good advice for the kids

A few days ago we wrote about the Thames Valley Economic Partnership annual dinner and what terrific company we had on our table (read about it here if you missed it).

One of the diners was Rebecca Constable, from Kleinwort Benson in Newbury and in a wide ranging chat about PR and capitalising on opportunities she revealed she was due to appear in today's Sunday Times Money section and was due to have her photo taken with her kids the next day.

Now as a senior private banker I could not fathom why the paper wanted a photo of Rebecca with the kids in and in light of some of the 'working mum's' nonsense that has been written recently, alarm bells starting to ring. I soon had them ringing with Rebecca too as I questioned the motives of the heavyweight paper... until she added it was in an article on investing for children. Suddenly the photo seemed very relevant indeed!

I had not been over-reacting, when it comes to any exposure in the media it is always wise to explore the context in which you are appearing, and to appreciate that if the paper takes the photograph it will always own the copyright.

You can read Rebecca's words of wisdom here, but the photo-lite web version does not have quite the same impact as the paper itself.

Incidentally the paper comes with its near infamous Rich List today, making this edition one of its highest selling of the year. Good news for Rebecca's profile.

With the threshold of £5million to feature on the list we are thinking 2011 or thereabouts before we feature.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Champagne reception for The Bruce Trust

Morgan PR was delighted to find itself among the great and the good invited to a charity champagne reception at West Berkshire solicitors Horsey Lightly in Newbury last night.

The event was raising money for The Bruce Trust, which was founded 20 years ago by Louise and David Bruce to provide self-catering holidays for the disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people, cruising on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

As David Bruce recounted launching the charity I perhaps had a better recollection than most, having written about those early days as a cub reporter on the Newbury Weekly News, which last night led to a stirring chat with David and Louise, not least recalling my late editor who had been a good friend of the Bruces.

The event provided ample opportunity to network and make new acquaintances while rubbing shoulders with old friends, such was the atmosphere and mix of guests. We are indebted for our invite to the charming John Trehearne commercial property lawyer extraordinaire and fellow member of the Newbury Business Group,

We were kept entertained by 7-in-a-Bar, a nine-piece barbershop singing sensation who provided a delightful backdrop to proceedings and if you want to hear them for yourselves the Newbury Today website has a report on their fundraising weekend, complete with video here.

Naturally the evening did not end their and we repaired to the Queens Hotel in Newbury's Market Place for a swift drink with Michelle Lucas from Greenfields, Lucy Venables from Red Prosper and Chris and Emily Turberville-Tully from Inspiration Ink and we finished off the evening at Pizza Express for some food with Chris and Emily, marveling at the social nature of Champagne.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Warm welcome for Breakfast Newbie

Nigel was otherwise engaged today, so Morgan PR's newest director went along to Newbury Breakfast Group, partly to find out what the boss does every Friday morning!

I was very impressed, firstly by the quality of the coffee that was offered and also by the welcome that was offered to me by the group. Mark Arrowsmith of Snappy Snaps made sure that I was introduced to other members of the group, and it was good to meet some of those that I have heard so much about and not yet been able to meet.

The one minutes were nowhere near as scary as I'd been lead to believe, with even a declaration of enduring affection being made during one.... If you want to know more about that one, you'll have to come along and find out the full story!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A personal delivery from Amazon

It isn't everyday you get to glimpse our rapidly evolving business environment from someone who by any measure must be an expert, however much earlier this evening Morgan PR was at the Thames Valley Economic Partnership Annual Dinner and the keynote speaker was Brian McBride, the MD of Amazon UK, you know, the online book sellers!

He began by revealing that he had already given his talk twice in the Thames Valley, to both Reading prison and the local branch of Alcoholics Anonymous... and apologised if anyone was hearing it for a third time!

Joking aside he talked about the evolution of business on the web and how important Search Engine Optimisation is before revealing that Amazon has 58 million keywords, these are words that people regularly search for and that Amazon is optimised for so it can be found by the search engines. Which was nearly as impressive as the news that 'pickers and packers' at the new depot in South Wales walk 13 miles everyday in the 800,000 square foot facility.

We also heard from Billy Davidson, the director of group properties at Vodafone, who were hosting the event at their global headquarters in Newbury. More specifically we were in the pavilion, which had been largely underwater after the flooding in July 2007. Although perhaps even the recovery was not as impressive as his tales of mobile working among the Vodafone workforce.

Shaun Whittaker, the CEO of TVEP spoke about how prosperous the Thames Valley was and railed on the government for not doing more for the transport infrastructure. On our tables were copies from a section of the Financial Times that coincidentally enough - focused on the Thames Valley. It couldn't have been planned better!

With the speeches over it was back to the social alchemy that my wife and I had been enveloped in at our buzzing table, courtesy of the deft invitations of Mia Drennan from Square Mile Connections. Also from the town's premier recruitment company were Nicola Ogston and Rebecca Mooney; together with Suzanne Goodland from Intergrating HR, Caroline Billington from A-count-a-bility, Tony Quinn from Recognition Express, Rob Goddard from BCMS Corporate and Rebecca Constable, a senior private banker from Kleinwort Benson.

Naturally the abundance of alcohol had little to do with the convivial atmosphere which had come about from the natural charm of those sat around the table and of course Mia's choice of who to invite certainly prompted some exploratory chats about future projects.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Honest and eco-friendly at Sheepdrove

We ventured high up on to the Lambourn downs today to meet with Russell Downing, the friendly manager at the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, who are among the companies featuring in the forthcoming editon of Newbury Business Today, out on May 8th.

It is a truly impressive facility in a picturesque location and Russell was grinning in the knowledge he had yet again here was someone has been blown away by the sheer beauty of Sheepdrove.

I was curious about the potential hypocrisy however, when he said: "We do have a truly fantastic facility here; we have excellent state of the art conference facilities and we have Sheepdrove’s green credentials. The fact that it does the power of good for a company’s own green image to come and use us is surely a bonus in this age of corporate social responsibility."

So I asked him if it was perhaps just a little hypocritical? Inviting companies that might be less than green to capitalise of Sheepdrove’s formidable reputation for being green, from the organic farm to the eco conference centre itself?

"Not at all," he said. "Even if a company came here solely because they believed it would enhance their green credentials they could not fail to learn something of what we do here, how important it is and the difference that we and indeed they can make."

Clever eh?

Even more impressive is the fact that such candor is part of the forthcoming article too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One Minute Master Class at the CIPD

Action Coach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell was invited along to present a seminar on "how to create the ultimate one minute elevator speech" to a meeting of CIPD members last night. This was a meeting held for independent HR and Training consultants and Sally had been recommended to this group by Michelle Lucas of Greenfields.

As Morgan PR provide Business Support services to Sally, Diane went along to help out and be a willing example of what you can learn from this session!

Sally gave tips on how to keep your one minute fresh and interesting, something which is imperative for all of us that regularly network. The meeting was fun and everyone got a chance to practice their new and improved one minutes, and receive feedback in a supportive environment.

It's likely that Morgan PR will be attending this group again in Autumn and speaking about How to Write a Killer Press Release.

If you have a group that would like to received either of these presentations, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Testimonials make for good public relations

This was a testimonial that Morgan PR gave Action Coach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell for a flyer that has been landing on the doorsteps of 7,500 Federation of Small Businesses member this morning and will soon be going out in a variety of business newspapers too.

It is a lovely endorsement of Sally's formidable ability to help business owners, but also it is really good PR for Morgan PR, informing businesses of how successful we are.

I will be introducing Sally at three forthcoming seminars where she will be revealing why so many people choose Action Coach, and indeed her, to get control of their businesses. We proudly count ourselves among them and indeed I first met Sally many years ago at such a seminar!

The seminars are as follows:

Tuesday 20th May, 2008
The Holiday Inn, Peartree Interchange, Oxford

Tuesday 17th June, 2008
Hilton Hotel, Great Western Way, Swindon

Tuesday 1st July, 2008
The Regency Park Hotel, Bowling Green Road, Thatcham

You can register for any one of the seminars here and registration and networking for each is from 1800-1830 and the seminar itself from 1830 to 2030.

Testimonials are an excellent way to thank your suppliers while promoting yourself, or indeed to use your customers to endorse what you provide them. They provide the social proof that can make transactions easier and are not actually that hard to come by.

Asking is often a good way to get testimonials and even offer to write them if someone agrees to sign off your version of their kind words and especially do not forget the hyperlinks if your testimonial is online - Google loves those inbound links!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Maker's Mark Black Label proves memorable

We are surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed today considering the fun and somewhat indulgent evening we had with friends Sam and Miriam McCallum last night.

Ever the alert journalist at a distant dinner I had noted that Sam (who is one half of timber building specialists Hartwood Oak) had raved that the finest drink known to modern man was Maker's Mark Black Label. Sadly this drink was so good the American's kept it in Kentucky. Or did they?

Courtesy of Google I have regularly searched for said drink and recently struck lucky with The Whisky Exchange, who quickly obliged and dispatched a bottle of this golden nectar in time for dinner last night. And lo, via Japan where the bottle had been imported from, Sam was a very happy fellow indeed. And he is right, what a damn fine drink it is!

Now why do I tell this story? Partly to share awareness of this fine drink of course, but also to illustrate the real difference paying attention to the little things can have. Now Sam is a friend first and foremost, but even more so in business paying attention to the little things, whether a child's name or something as simple as a birthday, can make all the difference and is certainly what can differentiate you from a competitor.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Newbury Business Today publicity for Morgan PR

Yesterday saw the announcement of a New Director for Morgan PR in Newbury Business Today, proof that public relations companies need PR too!

Diane has long supported the company and has been increasingly working with us more and more than her technically part time status might suggest. This article celebrates her joining Morgan PR full time. It can be found in the paper on page 8, for anyone looking for full text!

Appointments - and we are talking senior manager and director level here, not a new tea person - are a straightforward way to gain publicity for any business as such moving and shaking is a legitimate story.

Incidentally, there was a line about Diane, while being my wife, would be expected to work a lot harder than Parliamentary spouses apparently do - but that got cut out!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Excellent Conference facilities at Elcot Park Hotel

Morgan PR attended a 90 Day planning session today, run by Action Coach Sally Rainbow- Ockwell. The day itself was well run and valuable and we left with a plan of action to take us forward for the next three months.

The Conference facilities offered at the Elcot House Hotel were of a very high standard, with the all important excellent teas, coffees and lunch! Definately somewhere that we would look to use in future, a local and high quality venue for meetings and seminars.

Sunday, April 06, 2008 a winning domain name

No sooner do I mention the rarity of finding a really good generic domain name that Google will love (see yesterday's blog entry) than I am reminded of the recently launched a new website offering a host of web solutions courtesy of talented and charming web guru Charlie Brockis.

Charlie is a fellow member of the Profit Club run by Action Coach Sally Rainbow-Ockwell and was canny enough to discover the stunningly descriptive domain name was not only available, but he snapped it up and designed this site.

With search engine optimisation key to the success of any online business it is the 'click rate' that measures how many people are following links to your site. To borrow a tag from a well know product, it does what it says on the tin.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

That's a lot of dough for a domain name

Clients who are venturing into cyberspace for the very first time are often frustrated by the scarcity of Google-friendly domain names. The value of truly generic domains has been illustrated with the news that has just sold for US$2.6 million an online auction.

The Baltimore Sun has perhaps the best interview with the somewhat amazed former owner of the domain who had registered it way back in 1994 when he was trying to win business with a pizza firm. He dutifully paid $20 each year and has just cashed in with the record price at auction.

It neatly highlights the scarcity and value of generic domain names and for many of the clients we work with it can be a real challenge to find a Google friendly domain name for their business; most options will be clumsy and look awful written down - and will never be worth as much as!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tax really doesn't have to be taxing

Morgan PR attended a VAT seminar today, which may sound dull but was far from it. Run by the HMRC team and held in Swindon, it helped to make the whole VAT process far more understandable, so was two hours very well spent.

We also picked up a gem of information about being able to claim VAT back on goods and services bought before VAT registration; this is definitely something worth consulting your accountant about, as we certainly will be!