Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meet the Chamber - Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce host event at Sheepdrove

The best thing about such a fabulous venue as Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre is that you can never return too soon, so we were delighted to be back later today – this time for a Meet the Chamber event that attracted more than 80 members of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Morgan PR has only recently joined the Chamber and thus far has been thoroughly impressed by the communication and sheer volume of events being promoted by the Chamber.

It was great to be back in the majestic Oak Room with so many fellow professionals and we made many promising contacts that we look forward to working with in the coming months. It was also good to see plenty of familiar faces too.

Organic PR seminar offers joined up solutions

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre proved a stunning venue for Morgan PR's Organic PR presentation today and it was clear from the sheer excitement and ethusiasm generated by the people who attened the event that we had helped them - we said that this seminar would help them 'enjoy a bountiful harvest in spite of the recession' and we believe that will happen when they employ the tactics we revealed today.

We had been asked to present the seminar by the Federation of Small Businesses as part of the FSB Trading in Tough Times series and there can be little doubt that the tough times had brought record numbers to such a seminar, and from a varied and diverse background.

We sought to balance a terrific amount of information on how to leverage your organic PR - and we have yet to find a company that is not abundant in opportunities - with concrete strategies on how to implement that information to benefit their businesses. A trio of workshops gave delegates the chance to confere on their tables and decide what they would do first when they returned to work.

We were delighted with the enthusiam created during the workshop - there were so many of those attending who we writing down what they were going to do and already many have emailed Morgan PR to tell us what they have done!

We also had the event filmed for our own future public relations by the fantastic Julian Wellings Films and will be posting that video here soon. Part of our presentation explored the value and indeed expectation of video and what a tremendously powerful piece of PR it can be.

Do you belong to a business group or networking organisation that would benefit from our Organic PR seminar? We are also preparing another public event

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Record numbers set to attend Organic PR workshop at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre

With less than 24 hours to go until Morgan PR presents the Organic PR seminar at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, there are record numbers set to attend the recession busting workshop. We have seen increasing numbers attending the range of seminars we give to businesses and networking groups and it is clear how popular any event it that can offer the chance to beat the recession.

We were asked to present the seminar by the Federation of Small Businesses as part of its Trading in Tough Times Programme and the event has drawn both FSB members and non-members alike.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Neale James takes fantastic photos for Morgan PR

Morgan PR had a deliciously indulgent afternoon today in the oh-so capable and thoroughly creative hands of Neale James, one of the Thames Valley’s foremost professional photographers.

With the latest generation of the Morgan PR website rapidly taking shape it was time to secure the kind of images the fabulous website that has been designed by the very talented Adrian Scott of Companion Computers – the most can-do web guy we have been lucky enough to meet.

As one of our associates Adrian was also with us for the photo sessions and performed a variety of roles from the obligatory web guru through to a reporter and even a paparazzo! Also on hand to be captured on memory card was Miriam McCallum, NLP trainer extraordinaire and another Associate.

We should have sight of the new photographs next week, but just the fleeting glimpses on the back of the cameras gave us an exciting preview of how brilliant these photographs will be – rest assured we will give you a preview here on the blog!

We've worked with Neale James many times before and he took the photos for our current website and also photographed Nigel Morgan for an exhibition once!

Speaking of blogs, we had to trawl all the way back to the start of Neale James' blog to find an image of the man who admittedly spends most of the time behind the camera! Definitely take the time to admire the wonderful photography showcased there.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What is your Myers Briggs Type? Personality matters at NRG Reading

There was a most excellent seminar at the popular NRG Networks meeting at Wokefield Park in Reading earlier today; the pre lunch seminars are generally delivered by members of the networking group and today we were learning about building rapport

Naturally as I became a Certified Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming earlier this year I was keen to see how Eleanor Yearwood, an executive coach from Key Talent Partners, would approach this essential part of successful business. After all, people buy people and rapport is all about... well, building rapport.

Well we were naturally in for a fun and exciting seminar - lots of moving around as Eleanor spent an hour explaining the four different types of main profiles and how the effect not only our own behaviour, but should also determine how we should act with others when we recognise their own Myers Briggs Type profile.

Actually, it makes much more sense to let Eleanor explain herself - Morgan PR was armed with a video camera, admittedly of moderate quality, and correctly thought that only she would tell you about it!

The seminar was followed by lunch and I was the moderator on our table. Although honestly, my table was motivated and well behaved with some terrific networking going on around the table.

Flushed form the modest success with the camera with Eleanor Yearwood I also asked NRG Networks top dog, the charming Dave Clarke if he would explain a bit more about how this successful networking group works.

What do you think of the video content? We are hoping to bring you more soon - not least some professional content!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

West Berkshire Council stabs itself in the foot with knife crime PR blunder

Public sector public relations is always a challenge. Your organisation represents the people, who by the very nature of democracy are unlikely to be universal in their approval - which is why it beggars belief that West Berkshire Council would stab itself in the foot by appearing soft on knife crime - in the middle of a trial of five teenagers who stabbed a local lad to death.

Newbury Today sets the incredulous tone with this article, an interpretation that must surely have been blindingly obvious would be the outcome.

Before starting Morgan PR, when I was a press officer with Thames Valley Police in Newbury and Reading, I co-operated with the media as much as possible in the very real expectation that at some point in the future I would need their co-operation in return. Mistakes are made in the public sector and being able to buy and hour or two of patience from a journalist who has scented blood - often literally - can be invaluable.

Day to day it simply bought you the benefit of the doubt. Journalists would trust you and give you the space to do the job of representing the police rather than reacting to the media. It also avoided stand offs such as that which happened at the Oxford Mail where they printed blank spaces 'where crimes we are not being told about should be reported' Ouch!

Now the Newbury Weekly News, the printed parent of the online Newbury Today takes a justifiably challenging approach to the seemingly arrogant stance so readily adopted by West Berkshire's elected councillors and often the council's officers too. Whether it is refusing to apologise for the roadworks causing traffic jams (surely you can feel sorry, without actually saying sorry?) or simply refusing to accept that the rising bollards that keep destroying errant vehicles might be legally sound, but morally unfair? Keeping them in place when it is clear they catch out motorists and wreck their cars is a complete nonsense.

Then there are crisis management case we have managed that defy belief at the way the council has behaved, often spending vast amounts of taxpayers' money with no obvious benefit.

So, in the latest chapter West Berkshire Council says it is against the public interest to presume to prosecute shops that sell knives to children. Newbury Today reports:

Officials said that under Crown Prosecution Service guidelines, prosecuting shops selling knives to children may not always be in the public interest. Presuming in favour of prosecution could “cast doubt” on whether each case was being assessed on its merits, trading standards officers said.
Does that sound like nonsense to anyone else? Surely you catch someone selling knives to kids they presume to prosecute until the merits suggest otherwise. Not so hard, is it?

Now for our PR lesson in all this! What should West Berkshire Council have done?

It really isn't difficult to work out! How about "Promised to investigate", or "Address this matter with urgency". Something to buy time and allow the situation to diffuse. They could have said they would investigate and simply shown they were aware of how strongly people felt - especially while under the scrutiny of a reporter expected to provide a story! Or with the proper planning could have anticipated the issue would up and bite them and avoided the controversy all together by doing the right thing for the community.

Still, look on the bright side - at least Noel Edmonds wasn't there, just waiting for another opportunity to rant on Noel's HQ!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love in a cold economic climate presents both challenges... and public relations opportunities

Morgan PR has been generating publicity for a terrific French restaurant in Newbury, West Berkshire this week and in the way we have helped Le Petit Square there may be lessons for other businesses who are finding winning the affection of customers during the recession.

The key is that the media - this story has already been taken up by newspapers and radio - are constantly looking for new ways to interpret the recession at the moment and if you can find a way to promote your business within this context then it is possible you can create powerful public relations.

So while it may not be the most scientific assessment of the recession, but Le Petit Square is reporting that while loved up diners visiting on St. Valentine’s Day were still gazing dreamily at one another... they were simply spending less money.

Suzanne Hemchaoui, who founded the popular restaurant four years ago, explained: “Valentines is always a huge night for us – for any restaurant – and we could have booked out 10 times over, but there is no doubt the recession is biting. People were spending less on their menu choice, and choosing to drink Champagne by the glass rather than the bottle.

“The French food, the wine – people see it as romantic anyway and St. Valentine’s Day can often bring out a grand gesture or two, with engagement rings being flourished or we are asked to drop a sparkling ring into the Champagne glass – but this year? Non!

“Chatting to some of our regulars, there are couples who are delaying their wedding because of the credit crunch and on St. Valentine’s people left much earlier than they normally do and some were talking about ‘getting back to the babysitter’, which also suggests cost cutting.

“Across the board we are seeing fewer people and they are spending less. The corporate trade that would see businesses coming in for lunch has certainly reduced. That said, we are lucky and we do have a loyal clientele.

“Our hearts were lifted recently after Gordon Ramsay appeared on his TV programme stood in front of a branch of Strada somewhere, and urged people not to visit anonymous chain restaurants, but to opt for the local independent restaurateurs – like us! That actually brought in lots of business and we saw a surge of people coming in and they were talking about it.

“An independent restaurant like ours, with all the benefits of original menus and the flexibility to respond to our customers, does find it difficult to cope with a chain restaurant in much the way a corner shop struggles to compete with Tesco. We have to offer more and we are certainly not being glum about it – we are currently planning an ‘Allo Allo Night’ for May 1st, which will be a blast and we’re hoping to stage some French film nights too.”

What do you think?

The hard news angle is there - people spent less money on St. Valentine's Day at a romantic French restaurant. In reporting this, the restaurant is named, its plans are revealed and a competitor is knocked - by Gordon Ramsay!

A recipe for revenue generating PR - in a recession from Morgan PR!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A potentially life threatening lesson in news sense

My unique perspective as a poacher (journalist) turned gamekeeper (police press officer) turned highly sought after poaching consultant (Director of Morgan PR) does give me an interesting take on the news - and the newspaperman blood still courses through my veins, which is why we insist on any PR aimed at the media as being newsworthy.

"Is it a story?" is the question that I urge clients to ask themselves whenever they encounter a potential opportunity. An easy test is if you find yourself telling other people about it - that could well be a story!

The quest to determine if something is newsworthy should be completed before approaching the media; better you decide it isn't a story than a news editor who might just be proficient in junk mail rules on Outlook!

That said, the media sometimes get it wrong too - whether it is through the trickery of gimmick driven PR or through plain missing the strongest news angle in a story.

Take this story from the Newbury Today website - a man has had his rifle, which is fitted with a telescopic scope, stolen from his car and understandably wants it back. The police fear the rifle could be used in crime. Where is the story there? Anyone?

I will tell you what it isn't:

Some criminal, most likely to be feeding a drug habit so not renown for good decision making skills, now has a rifle, which by the owner's admission in the story 'could kill someone from half a mile away'. You bet he wants it back!

However, this is a gun - not a kitten! And surely the story is the police condemnation of the stupidity that sees such a weapon left insecure in a car.

Here's the police comment buried in paragraph nine of the story:

Romy Freiburghaus, Crime Reduction Advisor for West Berkshire said: “This careless behaviour does not only make you a victim of crime, but you also potentially endanger other people’s life through your negligence.

“Never leave anything on display in your car. Even an item covered up on the back seat is a temptation for someone to ‘smash and grab’, which this week’s incident proves.

“By following this simple rule you can minimise the risk of becoming a victim of car crime.”
Full marks for working some crime prevention advice in there, but she says the owner has potentially endangered lives through their negligence - there is the story. A headline that runs something like (with sensationalist slant!):

- police slam owner's negligence

You just hope the gun is safely recovered before anyone is hurt. And while the suggested headline is sensational, it would warn people about the missing gun.

Incidentally, the police press release can be found here - and that plays it straight, but the police press officer would have anticipated the story getting out there in a much more aggressive fashion. After all, the more people talk about the gun, the more likely it is the police will discover who has it and safely recover the firearm.

However, fear of gun crime aside, there is a point here. You need to know all the news angles of your story, and not just the most obvious one. Journalists can interpret stories in very different ways to that expected. Just think how the gun owner's quotes about the rifle killing would have played under the headline we suggest?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

'Twitter could kill your business' - web guru poses tough questions for social media users

It is easy to assume that Twitter and other social media platforms are a business necessity - rather than a business nicety - and fellow blogger, twitterer and prominent web guru Graham Jones has warned that businesses wasting time on such websites could destroy their businesses.

You can read what Graham Jones wrote by clicking here - and we were moved to comment to agree with his warning. It is true, social media can be a time hungry beast - but if you satisfy its craving with the sugar-fuelled equivalent of junk food then you will surely crash and burn. You have to be way smarter than that and as Graham says, knowing what your target audience look at online is key.

This is not really new was much as it is a timely reminder - target has always been King.

Let me explain how Morgan PR does it. We blog, twitter and are well LinkedIn (only ever did facebook as a personal thing, and ecademy was only a flirtation and bursting with spam-like people who do not know me but behave like they do!) and are very careful how we use each and only as part of a coherent marketing strategy.

In its simplest terms we use these tools to populate our permission marketing database - the members of which get our monthly newsletter. All the time we strive to offer them enough value that they continue to grant us permission and over time many become convinced of our considerable expertise and they become customers.

All this is done with analytics that show when you are doing it right and allow you to adjust your approach if you are making mistakes.

We have clients who found our blog on Google, or perhaps went to our website first. Or they Twittered with us or LinkedIn... then, in different journey times, they migrate across to become clients.

Of course, we don't just exist in cyberspace and many people follow us online after encountering us in the real world.

If you are in public relations or marketing, like us, competency in the social media people are discovering is in itself a terrific way to leverage the relationship and can ensure you are able to help more people than ever before - and in the difficult economic times we currently face, that is so vitally important.

Friday, February 13, 2009

'Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights' - powerful energy saving tips at Newbury Business Group

The 10 minute Masterclass slot at Newbury Business Group is always a chance for our members to shine, and none more so than West Berkshire energy saving guru, Anthony Straszewski from Proport Eco-Services, who this week was enlightening us on energy saving lightbulbs.

During a very interactive session Anthony, pictured above, had us shouting out our frustrations with energy bulbs - they are too slow to light up, they are dimmer than normal bulbs, you cannot get spotlight bulbs - the list went on and Anthony would deftly flourish an energy saving bulb that countered our concerns and plug it in, lighting up the room and illuminating our minds in an ever more friendly shade of green.

He clearly made the point that it is really easy to make excuses for not making simple changes that not only save the environment, but can actually save money too. With readily available lightbulbs such as the ones shown to us today saving 80% on old style lightbulbs we could understand what he meant about being green paying in more ways than one.

No doubt many members will be using Anthony's company for its Lifestyle Green-audit™ and Energy Audit. Proport Eco-Services offers a range of energy related services, including Energy Performance Certificates, and unrivalled local expertise on Code for Sustainable Homes.

Morgan PR has been working with Proport Eco-Services on its branding and market position as it moves forward and we have collaborating with fellow Newbury Business Group member Adrian Scott, from Companion Computers to create a web offering to best showcase Anthony's amazing work, including an extranet to help his clients access their energy information online.

Learning to save time over breakfast - secrets of Four FourTime revealed at Newbury Business Group

One minute elevator pitches and 10 minute Masterclasses? Breakfast at Newbury Business Group might sound regimented, but truthfully the dynamic nature of such a remarkable group of entrepreneurs and business owners makes precision timing more of a theory that strictly enforced fact - many say it is the relaxed nature of our group that makes it preferable to the more 'structured' networking groups out there in West Berkshire.

Perhaps if we were running the meetings using Four Four Time, the thoroughly efficient though blissfully simple timer program created by Tony Spiers of, the naturally named Four Four Time company, the meetings might be more as regimented. There is certainly no doubt the this little application can deliver big savings in time and money.

Tony was delivering a 10 minute Masterclass at this morning's breakfast meeting and gave a powerful display of his creation in action.

During the demonstration Tony explained that typically the users discover how much time they save simply by measuring how much time they spend on each task - one client had discovered they wasted two and a half hours a day on personal emails when they estimated it added up to 30 minutes.

The timer can capture multiple tasks and is easily exported to an Excel spreadsheet if required. Tasks can be paused, quickly launched and alarms set too. One user sets an alarm on the timer to remind them to use the timer! Mutli user licences are also available and

Given Tony's background as a trainer - he also offers bespoke training courses in the basic Office programs - he has managed to create a program that is intuitive and that comes with an instruction booklet that only runs to 28 pages. Not the veritable telephone directories that normally accompany new computer programs.

Morgan PR was an earlish adopter of Four Four Time after writing about Tony and his wife and business partner Jill and the successes they have had with the innovative product.

It certainly is easy to use and it was an eye opener for us how much longer some tasks took and indeed how it was also easy to over estimate the time other tasks would take. Now we tend to use it to measure new tasks the first few times to accurately record typical timings and also with the crisis management work that we undertake. We certainly would have no hesitation in recommending it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Never become the story - Noel Edmonds pounces on press officer quip

He was never so agitated on Swap Shop! I'm talking about Noel Edmonds, who went postal at a press officer via his charitable show on Sky 1, Noel's HQ and in doing so delivers a terrific example of how becoming the story can be a disaster for a press officer.

Now I've not seen any more than this clip, preferring to keep Noel (and Keith Chegwin) in my 'Memories from a time of innocence' file, along with such gems as Pipkins and Bagpuss, but essentially get the idea that the show does good, not least through public indignation.

This exchange came about over Wealden District Council's rejection on planning grounds of a bungalow for a disabled war veteran - normally the preserve of local papers and regional TV, this has become major story courtesy of a press officer provoking Noel.


The killer line. The words that cost this press officer so dearly were his policy-based dismissal that the council 'did not speak to entertainment shows'. I wonder if the press officer realised his mistake the second the words tumbled from his mouth?

Have the press team at Wealden District Council never seen Watchdog? Baiting the spokesman is brilliant TV sport and has nothing to due with truth and everything to do with whipping up indignation and anything that is dismissive of the programme - and therefore the viewers it attracts - is a recipe for red-faces. When the viewers are tax payers (regardless if they live in Wealdon) then you need to switch to crisis management mode pronto.

Noel HQ is suddenly viral gold and appearing all over the web and will no doubt pick up more viewers - which is surely coincidence.

You should never become the story when you are a press officer - unless it helps your organisation of course. Back when I was a press officer at Thames Valley Police I was snapped at Reading Festival and the photo below appear across seven columns of Saturday's Guardian. All very entertaining - but at that morning's press conference there were more questions about that photo then there were about a rape at the festival and certainly less column inches appeared.

To an extent being a police press officer is a little different; when a detective argues he is trying to catch a murderer and would rather you front up the cameras, it is hard to argue back. But then I was a paid spokesman whose role included appearing on camera.

Somewhere in the archives there is footage of a brick bouncing of my hard hat (which I had questioned the wisdom of wearing as it made me look more builder than police PR!) and I am sure there is footage of me ripping into a journalist or six. But never where in itself it would become the story.

Personally I always wanted to come up against political comic Mark Thomas on one of his visits to the atomic weapons factory at Aldermaston - which would have been flirting with the risk of TV exposure of the most ridiculing kind, but it never happened!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Rave reviews for Morgan PR - watch the video and see for yourself!

It seems hard to believe the snow that has continuously carpeted the ground for so many days now was just starting to fall last week when Morgan PR headed across to Faringdon for the FBBC to deliver them a seminar about 'The Path to Networking Nirvana.

Among the audience was Julian Wellings from Expertise on Tap, who provides us with the excellent newsletter services that many of you will be familiar with. He also runs Julian Wellings Films a successful corporate video company and in that capacity he filmed me at the seminar and asked members what they thought of the talk and below is the video he quickly produced.

Naturally we are delighted with the result, the comments and know that videos are the future of websites. Anyway, enjoy the video below!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Twitter means business - Morgan PR among the Twitter Elite in West Berkshire

Morgan PR Twitters - indeed you can find me on Twitter here - and we have been discovering for a little while that it is an effective tool for driving traffic here to this blog, but also to our website, for encouraging people to sign up for our newsletter and keeping our associates updated on our activities.

I guess we could be modestly impressed at being 157,508 out of almost two million Twitters busy enough to be assessed by Twitter Grader, a self congratulatory tool for those busy enough on the micro-blogging site to get noticed.

More interestingly, it checks out where you stand geographically, and we were somewhat amazed to discover we are within the Top 10 Twitter Elite in West Berkshire! Actually at number nine! We kid you not - and here is the really important part - every single Twitterer who makes into the top 21 locally is in business. No bored teenagers talking about the most amazing snowflake they have just seen - well, no teenagers! But definite evidence this is a business tool.

Honestly, it is a surprise that our modest efforts on Twitter warrant such recognition. If you want to be really impressed check out Graham Jones on Twitter, he is the Internet Psychologist and racks up a whopping 97.8%.

What it does reveal is that Twitter is still open to relatively early adopters who are prepared to invest the time and effort to make this service a key part of their marketing strategy; it takes committment and time too, but like LinkedIn, if you make the investment it will work.

Snap, Crackle & Pot - Kellogg drops Michael Phelps - and he faces swim ban - how PR failed swim star

Saying too little too late is costing Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps dearly with a three month swim ban and he has been dropped by a PR savvy sponsor - all because his own PR advisers blinked when faced by a News of the World exclusive photo of him apparently smoking cannabis.

We blogged about Phelps and the fundamental crisis management blunders earlier this week (catch up here and more recently here) and have closely watched the media circus unfold: his apology for inappropriate behaviour - he never admitted smoking cannabis and the more careful media have never actually said that he did - he was only pictured with a bong. The media went crazy and are still bouncing off the walls.

The local sheriff where the party is alleged to have taken place is looking to prosecute Phelps, which is no doubt one of the reasons Phelps has not admitted anything other than being foolish - it would be easy to prove the criminal case if Phelps actually admitted anything more substantive!

How different would it have been if Phelps had gotten ahead of the maelstrom of negative PR by speaking up sooner? If the first avalanche of stories had contained the belated contrition he has displayed he might have escaped this ban. Instead the media and the anti-drug lobby has whipped itself into a frenzy that has led to USA Swimming announcing the three-month ban (which incidentally does not interfere with any major competitions)

The decision by Kellogg to drop Phelps is itself quite a PR savvy move. It turns out the contract only has a matter of weeks to run and mindful how many children eat their cereal from Phelps-emblazoned boxes, they have now won a huge amount of publicity for 'doing the right thing' without losing any benefit from the sponsorship. They said:

"Michael's most recent behaviour is not consistent with the image of Kellogg. His contract expires at the end of February, and we have made a decision not to extend his contract."
This leaves his other major sponsors - Speedo, Visa and Omega Watches -looking rather greedy in contrast and I would not be surprised to see them further break ranks. Especially if the News of the World has more photographs tucked away for this weekend - a common tactic by the leading Sunday tabloid.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Trading in Tough Times - Morgan PR asked to deliver Federation of Small Businesses seminar on Organic PR

With the recession biting hard for so many businesses, organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses are working hard to help members and indeed the whole economy combat the downturn.

The 'Trading in Tough Times' seminars are just part of this campaign and Morgan PR was delighted to be invited to speak about public relations.

More specifically we will be offering Organic PR: How to enjoy a bountiful harvest in spite of the recession and whether a start up or a veteran of the boom to bust cycle, this is an seminar you cannot afford to miss if you want to make hay while the sun fails to shine on our economy.

We believe the first recession of the internet age means the rules of PR have changed and you can discover the new rules at this morning Masterclass. It promises to help you discover the publicity opportunities within your business and how to maximise their potential.

If you come along you will discover why you should no longer simply target the media and the myriad of methods for looking after your crop of customers to ensure that bountiful harvest this year and beyond.

The greatest benefit of the approach of this Master Class format is that it gives you short bursts of information and then allows you time to work out how to use the input to benefit your business. You will walk away with some PR collateral ready to use to promote your business ahead of your competitors.

As we said, this workshop is part of the Trading Through Tough Times Programme. The series of Master Classes are both informative and outcome oriented to ensure you leave with information that’s of practical use, not just a note pad of great ideas. Naturally, also built in is time before and after the workshop for you to network freely.

The event is being held on Thursday 26th February at the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre at Warren Farm, Lambourn - itself a stunning venue we use for planning days and can heartily recommend.

The cost of the event is £10 for members of the FSB and £12.50 for non-members, including VAT and this includes refreshments. We are hoping many delegates will join us for a light lunch and wander around Sheepdrove Farm for the very reasonable sum of £11.50 per person, again including VAT.

Can you afford not to attend? You can find out more and book your place on this seminar here!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snow time time like the present to exploit PR opportunities!

The Morgan PR chickens (yes, the company has chickens to produce the Morgan PR fresh free range eggs we often give away to clients!) are having to work harder to find the worms in this weather.

Are you finding the snow is making you work harder - or perhaps smarter? If so you could be sitting on a warm and toasty PR opportunity while others shiver amid mediocrity.

Seriously, what impact has the snow had on your business? If you are among the many who have seen staff stranded at home - whether by the weather or through school closures - then the sheer commonality of your position will not attract the media!

However, if the snow has created an opportunity? Maybe you have come up with an innovative approach to service your customers? Are you staff getting to the office by ski or even huskies? The right idea, pitched as artfully as a well targeted snowball, could get you some valuable PR during these chilly months (and we are not just talking about the weather!).

The first question to ask yourself is whether your particular approach or activity is a news story; and if you are talking to other people about it, then it is already a story! Then, for starters, give your local newspaper a ring and tell them the story. It doesn't have to be polished or perfect - but it does need to be remarkable enough for a short-staffed newsroom to see the opportunity for a good news story based on the weather. If they bite it can snowball from there!

Try it! What's the worst that could happen? If you really want to do it but fancy professional help, then by all means contact Morgan PR, and certainly let us know if this has spurred you to success!

Monday, February 02, 2009

'The Path to Networking Nirvana' leads to Faringdon Business Breakfast Club

The roads may have been beset with more than a dusting of snow, but 'The Path to Networking Nirvana' was shown to be a sunny route to excellence by Morgan PR at this morning's meeting of the Faringdon Business Breakfast Club.

More manageably known as the FBBC (which isn't Daily Mail slang for Auntie Beeb), this thriving networking group meets monthly and on this cold day we were in the hot seat, delivering a talk on good practice when you're networking - not least among the tips was practice!

We turned the format on its head and kicked off with the presentation as some were still munching their sausage and bacon butties, not least because the presentation would end with a bite-sized course in how to deliver a knockout one minute.

It was rewarding to see the calibre of one minutes - only a couple spilled beyond the 60 second mark and many were beautifully succinct, punchy and memorable - everything that one minute pitches should be.

The path is a simple one and should be seen as common sense for anyone who stops for a moment and thinks about why they go networking and what they want to achieve. Yet all too often we meet supposedly committed networkers who are pretty aimless.

Not so the newly minted minute experts at FBBC who had newfound focus as they broke for networking after the presentation.

Pictured above are FBBC chairman Paul Brame from Morgan Cole Solicitors and Martin Davies, himself a consumate networker from NRG. Pictured below is yours truly with Nick Burroughs from the Vale of the White Horse District Council - we are all swapping business cards!

These photographs were all taken by commercial photographer Graham Light of Abbey Studios, who is a member of FBBC. He also shares his expertise and runs The Abbey Studios Photography Centre & School of Photography which offers first class training whether you are a beginner or more experienced photographer.

I should add that any marvelling at the ease of journey to Faringdon during the lightly snow sprinkled countryside pre-dawn was countered by some dicey conditions heading back to the office - it involved an abandoned photo shoot and much slip sliding away!

Damage limitation in action - Michael Phelps apologises after cannabis scoop goes global

Yesterday Morgan PR blogged about the News of the World story about Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps being caught on camera looking very much like he might just be smoking cannabis from a bong.

The endorsement-laden athlete was left looking decidedly more exposed than he ever does in his swimming trunks, as his representatives floundered and desperately tried to make the story - and most importantly the photo - disappear.

We explained how limited his options had been and recommended 'A&E' - Acceptance and Explanation.

In a belated statement Phelps said:

I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.
Better late than never, but you have to question the advice this athlete was given. Who would give you advice in a media crisis? It might not be the might of the News of the World coming knocking, but any media with an audience among your customer base could cause you more damage with a story far less remarkable than their scoop on Micheal Phelps.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Damage limitation was Michael Phelps' only option over News of the World cannabis bong exclusive

What must 14-times Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps be thinking today as he among the millions clicking on the News of the World's exclusive photograph of him appearing to be using a bong - or as they cunningly explains: 'The glass pipes are generally used to smoke cannabis.'

Whether Phelps did or didn't inhale is largely irrelevant as headlines spread across the web. Indeed the News of the World story never actually says he was smoking cannabis. The story will lead the majority of people to that conclusion, as will the photo below. But they never said it and that should delight their lawyers and insurance company in equal measure.

Morgan PR creates reputations, but we also protect them too and provide crisis management to a variety of clients and while we always prefer to be invited to calm the horses rather than pursuing the bolting variety, this does involve damage limitation too.

What is especially interesting in the News of the World story is how they also burn the PR company that tried to dig Phelps out of the monumental hole he had dived into. Normally the conversations between spin doctors and journalists happen in private and remain as such, regardless of the outcome. This is chiefly to preserve the relationship for future encounters.

However, take a look (if you haven't already read it) at the way it handled the pleading of the crisis manager trying to help Phelps:

Spokesman Clifford Bloxham offered us an extraordinary deal not to publish our story, saying Phelps would become our columnist for three years, host events and get his sponsors to advertise with us.

In return, he asked that we kill Phelps’ bong picture. Bloxham said: “It’s seeing if something potentially very negative for Michael could turn into something very positive for the News of the World.”

You have to hope that wasn't Bloxham's opening bid? To pay Phelps to pen a column for three years, taking his writing up to the 2012 Olympics in London, would cost a small fortune, likewise the hosting of events and how on earth advertisers would support this beggars belief. What is certainly shows is just how damaging they knew this story would be; what a splash it would make that would ripple through Phelps' career and unsettle sponsorship for £4 million. Therein lies the rub.

In reality there are stories so big, so juicy and so likely to appear elsewhere if a newspaper or other media take a pass, that crisis management is only ever going to be about damage limitation.

A better strategy here would have been what we call A&E - not so much Accident & Emergency, but it is just as much about immediate survival. For Morgan PR A&E is Acceptance and Explanation - once you accept that a story is going to appear, how can it be explained in a way that will be both plausible (if not honest!) and can begin to rehabilitate the media's target.

Obviously we are not privy to what Phelps did or didn't do at the party, but what evidence is out there? Is this the only photo? Is there video (no doubt the News of the World will follow this up next week)? And who are the witnesses and what motivation do they have? If you can answer these questions accurately then it is possible to start building a strategy for a healthy recovery.

What the prognosis for Phelps? It is hard to say with certainty - his talent is such that if drug tests remain clean then he should continue to flourish - albeit with frequent reference to this incident. Of course, if he fails a drug test, pulls out of any forthcoming events so he is not tested, or the News of the World has more tucked beneath its swim cap...