Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not quite Verbatim on ITV Thames Valley

Ah, the best laid plans... ITV Thames Valley Tonight did a terrific job covering the kind hearted gesture by call handling supremos Verbatim to handle the calls for one of its staff when she gives birth later this month... except they did not mention Verbatim by name!

Morgan PR always explain to clients that while public relations is the perfect way to promote the news stories within an organisation, the superior rewards of being in the news are tempered by the control you relinquish. If you want to guarantee what will appear in any medium and when, then advertising is the method - but of course does not attract the same objective consideration from the public.

All that said, it is not unreasonable to expect the hallowed six points of good journalism to be addressed - Who, What, Where, When, How & Why. These boxes were ticked, but only superficially - for example 'Who' is Donna Cox - which gets mentioned, but it is also founder and director of Verbatim Graham Hill and Verbatim itself, neither of which is mentioned.

On the brighter side, other media watch the news and are a bit more resourceful and one eagle-eyed publisher spotted my name on the text message that appears during the report and was quick to get in touch!

Below is what ITV showed last night - or rather it is what they showed with some helpful titles and subtitles to help fill in the gaps.

Getting on the telly: Morgan PR helps Verbatim, the phone answering service appear on Thames Valley Tonight

Morgan PR works closely with clients to help identify what they want public relations to achieve for their business and sometimes this can involve television exposure - this was certainly the case when Verbatim, the phone answering service came up with a brilliant idea to help one of their employees who is about to go on maternity leave - and this tempted the TV cameras.

Donna Cox is one of the team who answers the telephones at Verbatim, which can take overflow calls through to providing a full call handling service for its clients - which includes Morgan PR! She is expecting her second baby in a few weeks time and is just about to go on maternity leave safe in the knowledge she will be under less pressure than many pregnant women.

Above: Donna Cox is interviewed by ITV Thames Valley reporter Kate Cooney

Founder and director Graham Hill takes up the story: “Using the same service we provide to clients we are able to put Donna and her immediate family in control of the phone, and when they speak to people. They can turn the phone off to enjoy some peace and quiet, to spend some quality time with the new baby or even to get some vital sleep all without being disturbed.

“All of her callers would get to speak to the Verbatim team who could update on any progress and take all of the messages of congratulations and well wishes, then send them through to Donna.

“Our VIP list is normally used so we recognise our clients’ regular and important callers, however by getting Donna to input everyone she wants to know about her happy event, she can make one call to us and we can send a text message to everyone to let them know. We are also providing a 0845 telephone number so we can take messages and pass them on without callers disturbing Donna and her baby.”

From a PR point of view this is a lovely story and one that we were able to tempt ITV Thames Valley into covering a much of today was spent filming with them at Verbatim's offices on New Greenham Park, south of Newbury.

Above: Verbatim founder and director Graham Hill is interviewed.

We will need to wait until tomorrow night to discover how many seconds more than three hours of filming will result in, but this exposure will be the start of wider PR campaign.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Networking Buzz - Ladies who Latte launches in Newbury

Ladies who Latte was launched in Newbury today, hosted by print guru Joanna Harwood of Sentio Print and Multimedia.

This was a lively, fun meeting with many great local businesses represented. It wasn't just the caffeine talking, there was a genuine buzz around the group and there were ladies I just didn't have time to get to talk to.

Some I did catch up with were Mia Drennan, recruitment entrepreneur from Square Mile Connections (who is currently helping Morgan PR with our recruitment), Wendy Storey from ironing service (what bliss for busy ladies!) Absolutely Steaming, graphic design expert Tamalia Reeves from Flat Lizard and Lucy Venables, marketing consultant extraordinaire from Red Prosper Marketing.

The group will meet at 10am on the fourth Thursday of each month, at Donnington Valley Hotel, Donnington, Newbury.

The only cost is the investment of your time and the price of your coffee; how can you afford not to be there?!

Friday, September 19, 2008

'Waterproofs' seminar goes down a storm at NRG Networks in Reading

Earlier today Sally Rainbow-Ockwell from ActionCOACH and me, Nigel Morgan from Morgan PR gave our first presentation of the ever more topically named: ‘Waterproofs for the Economic Storm’ at the monthly NRG Networks meeting in Reading.

More specifically it was at the sprawling Wokefield Park near Mortimer. Parking problems at Wokefield Park – which bizarrely either has insufficient parking or poorly signed space locations – meant quite a few people arrived late to the seminar, but we had over 20 professionals eager to learn ‘How to double your sales and halve your marketing spend”

Essentially we were talking about how your existing customers hold the key to revenue and growth. When it costs six times more to get business from a new customer than an existing one, it should be a no-brainer, yet it was clear few people had even surveyed their existing clients to find out whether they are indifferent, satisfied or even delighted.

The seminar went well. There were some good questions and people were definitely engaged in what we had to say – hopefully they will have taken at least a few ideas away that will keep them dry!

The seminar was followed by the opportunity for informal networking, and then a lunch and as ever at NRG event there was a delightful buzz around the table as members and guests got to know one another through a positively generous two minute presentation – which uniquely to NRG concludes with ‘something no-one knows about you’.

Diane Morgan was a mediator on a neighbouring table, a role akin to that of a facilitator – and the person who has to hold everyone accountable on their secrets!

I must confess that while those around these tables rarely admit anything especially mortifying or even actionable it does seem improper to reveal them here! Mine I am happy to share: an exchange on the business social networking site LinkedIn has led to Morgan PR being likely to be included in the next Guerrilla Marketing book to be published early next year by Guerrilla Guru Jay Conrad Levinson and Scott Sorrel, founder of Sales Adrenaline. Not bad eh?

Like all networking, NRG is firmly about building the relationships with fellow members that in turn lead to the referrals as you grow to understand one another’s proposition and today we certainly met people that we relish the opportunities to get to know one another better at future NRG meetings.

The Newbury Business Group - networking now with added wild mushroom foraging

This morning started bright and early with Morgan PR's weekly attendance at the Newbury Business Group, West Berkshire's foremost independent networking group. A flurry of late apologies had dwindled the group to two tables and added an intimacy to proceedings and did nothing to detract from the collaborative nature that make this group so great.

I feel a special mention in despatches for one of the group's members, Cat Shepherd (pictured), who never fails to deliver a thought provoking one minute presentation from way out of left field - fields somewhere near the Pot Kiln to be honest! That is the heavenly pub owned by chef Mike Robinson in Frilsham, and he is also behind the Game Cookery School at Yattendon which is who Cat represents at the networking group.

Previous one minutes have ranged from lessons in knife sharpening through to advice on bread making; however today she came with a basket bursting with mushroom that she had picked before coming to the meeting. It was truly bountiful and neatly promoted the wild mushroom foraging courses being offered at the cookery school.

There is huge interest in the field of foraging for wild mushrooms at the moment. Few people realise that with our warm, damp climate we are better suited for mushrooms than either Italy or France, where gathering wild fungi is a national obsession. The area around the Pot Kiln is abundant during the months of October and November, during which time they can pretty much guarantee to find a diverse range of species, including ceps, chanterelles and blewits.

As wild mushrooms have a very short season indeed, you need to be quick off the mark in booking a place. They only run the course for a few weeks in October and November. Matthew Dorich, a local mushroom expert, teaching the courses, which cost £230.

There are plans for the Newbury Business Group to 'go on tour' one morning soon where we will meet at the cookery school and have breakfast there!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Deadline moves on Commercial Energy Performance Certificate

Do you recall when a Government press officer was accused of suggesting 9/11 as a good day to ‘bury’ bad news”? Clearly they learned that lesson for when they extended the deadline for commercial energy performance certificates they just announced it very quietly.

Consequently it was four days before the industry realised and publicity flared up around the decision. Few properties were compliant and as the legislation stood it would have been illegal for anyone to offer for sale, advertise, sell or lease a commercial property after the original October 1st deadline without an EPC in place and this would have affected hundreds of properties in the areas of the South and South West served by our clients Easton Bevins.

Claims that the implementation had been mismanaged or that not enough inspectors had qualified would have been damaging in the current political climate hence the low key announcement, which incidentally avoided the official channels surveyors were using to keep up to date with the legislation.

So today Morgan PR moved quickly to ensure Easton Bevins was at the forefront of the publicity over the change in deadline.

It actually places Easton Bevins, who has offices in Newbury, Swindon, Cheltenham and Bristol in an even stronger position as they have long been prepared for the original deadline. Morgan PR designed their Commercial EPC Advice website which has been attracting a lot of traffic as landlords finally realise that they will need an EPC for their buildings sooner or later.

Still time left to don 'Waterproofs for the Economic Storm'

There is still time to book your slot on 'Waterproofs for the Economic Storm' the seminar being presented jointly by Nigel Morgan of Morgan PR (that would be me!) and Sally Rainbow-Ockwell of ActionCOACH

Visit NRG Networks to book your slot at the seminar and lunch or check out the earlier entry on this blog for more details.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Strategic alliances and speed dating

The Pig & Paper in Newbury was the location for a meeting with good friend and strategic partner Mia Drennan from Square Mile Connections earlier this evening. It was also the location for a speed dating event which led to a very entertaining conversation with the barmaid who misunderstood my arrival!

We meet up regularly to discuss business opportunities and Morgan PR has provided PR for Square Mile. The current challenge is convincing people who believe the world is doomed in the current economic climate that someone with Mia's expertise can help with their recruitment strategy - whatever it looks like. Her business experience makes her a formidable resource for any company looking at hiring or firing, whether they are affected by the slowdown or not.

Incidentally, the pub was apparently unwittingly named after a colloquial term for Thursdays in the town - dating from when the market was held and the Newbury Weekly News published on that day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

HM Revenue and Customs can make you cry...

...with laughter!

Many of you will know the HMRC run some fantastic free courses for employers, covering a range of issues. Morgan PR has taken advantage of several of these, but had to ring to cancel one recently, due to a clash with a client meeting. Much was the hilarity in the office when the the HMRC advice line answered the 'phone as "Revenue and Custard". It must have been a long day!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Waterproofs for the Economic Storm*

*How to Double Your Sales and Halve Your Marketing Spend
What are you doing in the current economic climate? Will you batten down the hatches and hide until the storm passes? Would you rather survive... or thrive?

Savvy professionals and business owners who network already know that they need to be out there whatever the weather, but do they know how simple the solution is to staying warm and dry - winning business while everyone else catches a cold?

What can the not-so-secret ingredient be and why does it wash over so many business owners without them realising the potential at their fingertips?

At this crucial time, whether a real downturn is impacting on your business or the media hype is sending ripples through your sales figures, this seminar will offer you vital ‘Waterproofs for the Economic Storm’.

Morgan PR has teamed up with the award winning Sally Rainbow-Ockwell from ActionCoach to deliver a groundbreaking seminar to help small businesses weather the economic slowdown. We will unveil the seminar at NRG Networks next Friday (19th September, 2008) at Wokefield Park, near Mortimer and you can find out more details and book directly for the seminar and subsequent networking lunch here.

Our combined expertise promises that no business wishing to make hay while making their own sun shine should miss this 60 minute seminar.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting organised

As many of us know, being a business owner means that there are many and varied demands on your time. Prioritising these to make sure you get everything done can be difficult and sometimes seem like an impossible task.

Morgan PR have been trained by Mike Jones from Personal Productivity Systems in his own bespoke system for getting through the day and staying relatively sane! It has been a massive benefit to us and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a way of getting some structure in their day and getting more done.

Mood foods

Do you feel as good as you possibly could?

Natures Corner are running a Natural Health Evening at the Coronation Hall in Kintbury on Monday 6th October at 6.45pm and there will be an opportunity to listen to experts on Mood Foods and Essential Fats, and Why Take a Multivitamin, among other topics.

Tickets are £5 and can be bought on line from the Natures Corner website. All proceeds will be donated to Breast Cancer Care.

Monday, September 08, 2008

WiN big at a Charity Race Night Friday 7th November

The next charity event being organised by the networking group Women in Newbury is a Race Night, to be held at the Rugby Club in Newbury, 7.30pm on Friday 7th November.

This will be a fabulous evening of fun and entertainment, all for the bargain ticket price of £12 a head, which includes a fish and chip supper and your race card!

Our target is to make £1,000 for the Rainbow Rooms at Newbury Hospital, so come along and support a very good cause!

Tickets will be on sale from Newbury Building Society, on Northbrook street in Newbury.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Business Breakfast is back in Newbury

Newbury Business Group was back on form this morning after the summer recess.

West Berkshire's foremost independent networking group does not meet during August, chiefly because such a dynamic group of business owners tend to have yachts to sail and islands to visit...

The summer break does leave everyone refreshed though and this morning's meeting, held as ever at the Donnington Valley Golf Club in Newbury.

It was a well attended breakfast spilling across three tables and that was even with a few notable apologies from regular attendees who were otherwise busy early on a Friday morning.

From the one minute presentations it was clear that everyone had enjoyed a successful summer and were proof that successful businesses flourish even when the market is slowing down.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The early bird....

In an effort to be very organised this year, Morgan PR has started Christmas shopping; yes, I know it is only September, but the gifts on offer at The Art Shak in Long Lane were too inviting to be left on the shelf!

The Art Shak
can be discovered behind the garage , on the B4009 opposite 'The Lamb" pub in Long Lane, Hermitage. Those with Sat Navs can type in RG18 9LU and be guided straight there!

This little treasure chest is open between 11am and 4pm Wednesday to Saturday.

With bags from Rocky Point, beautiful silver jewellery from Rosie Soul, dichroic cufflinks from Whitewood, and a miriad of gorgeous gifts you can probably solve most of your Christmas shopping dilemmas in one easy trip!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Do you want gorgeous skin and fabulous nails?

The Women in Newbury group met yesterday at Encore to hear an interesting business talk from Elaine and have the future revealed with facial mapping.

This technique shows sun damage and imperfections under the skin; totally painless but very revealing! To see what the future holds for your skin and allow you to take action where required right now, why not make an appointment with Elaine? The salon 'phone number is 01635 43005.

What is Myngle?

We have blogged about the professional networking site LinkedIn here on the Morgan PR blog before and mere minutes ago I was perusing the LinkedIn Answers that feed into Outlook through an RSS feed, as you do, when my curiousity was piqued to review a video that someone in LinkedIn had posted on YouTube.

Apart from being modestly delighted to be the 16th person to view 'What is Myngle' I was actually really impressed, not just with the video - which is below - but also the concept. The Myngle website (incidentally, possibly my well honed typing, but I almost mangle Myngle everytime I type it!) basically links language students with native language teachers who between them find a budget and timetable to suit and using Skype are able to communicate for one to one lessons.

Pretty clever eh? Just might polish up my Spanish. Or Thai. I wonder if they have Albanian?

If you are LinkedIn you can view the LinkedIn Answer here and my LinkedIn profile here.

Clearly this was a particularly good way to promote Myngle and is likely to create that all important viral buzz that will drive traffic to their site and encourage people to use the service.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Grant Leboff's Sales Therapy at NRG Swindon

Morgan PR was at NRG in Swindon early today, not least to hear Grant Leboff talk during the seminar before lunch; a successful businessman and author of Sales Therapy he has a good reputation and featured on this blog once before.

Without doubt an accomplished speaker and acutely aware of the way sales has evolved in the face of Google and the choice the internet brings he spoke about how this should change our approach to selling, focusing more on the relationship rather than the transaction.

This was very similar to what Seth Godin has been talking about on his popular blog for some time now and indeed published in the book Permission Marketing - in other words getting people to put their hands up to say they are interested rather than trying to interrupt them and hope they will buy. There was also elements of points made by another author I would recommend, namely David Meerman Scott in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

I think it was the late American journalist and author Barbra Grizzuti Harrison who said 'There are no original ideas, only original people.' and on that count Grant was certainly an original and thought provoking speaker that has prompted us to check we are doing the right things.

After the lunch we heard from Grant Leboff again when prompted he revealed how he had gotten ahead when he started a telephone marketing company with no clients to speak of. He then called various trade magazines - he quoted Accountancy Age - and said he had quotes from people 'like' and then reeled off names of CEOs and such like. Would they like an article?

Of course they said yes and then he phoned the people and eventually got interviews as he was writing a piece for Accountancy Age...

He followed up by laminating cuttings of the obviously favourable articles and sent these to the CEOs as a precursor to meeting and subsequently signed up some as clients.

Clever? Undoubtedly. However, I was left feeling a little uncomfortable with the tale of bravado which was ultimately based on an untruth. That is probably the professionally qualified journalist in me objecting to a tactic which anyone using it should know will taint your brand if you get caught using it!

Of course, if you had access to a leading PR agency in the Thames Valley headed by a journalist who can legitimately secure that kind of commission and subsequent publicity... well that would be different!

So, yet another good networking session with NRG and we are planning on heading along to the one in Reading later in the month. Perhaps we will see you there.

Finally, Grant Leboff's book is available on Amazon for £8.44 if you would like to know more.

All that glitters... will adverts tarnish Google Chrome?

Well call me a sceptical potential early adopter and you will understand why I was curious to try out Google Chrome, the ubiquitous search engine's alternative to Internet Explorer - or for me Mozilla's Firefox browser.

Tabs - which are now included on Internet Explorer were what first made me a fan of Firefox and for public relations company founder who often reviews multiple news pages these were heaven sent. Then there were the myriad of extensions which mean that adverts are largely stripped from my viewing through to being able to grab text for blogging and lots more.

So trying Google Chrome was prompting curiousity and having had a play I am delighted to say how fast, intuitive and good looking it is. It is certainly faster than Firefox and leaves Explorer still looking for the door when running Java-based elements of web pages.

However, it is that advert blocking that will deter many from Google Chrome I suspect - after all Google makes its money - and plenty of it - from advertising so I cannot see them allowing Chrome users to block their route to the bank.

Thankfully Google Chrome were gracious enough not to insist on being my default browser upon installation... because for the timebeing they are not going to be either!