Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Apprentice - Why Morgan PR has soured to Sir Alan Sugar's circus.

Did you see the first episode of the new series of The Apprentice? It has attracted record audiences by all accounts in today's media - yet we chose not to watch it. Why? Excepting the obvious and scatalogical condemnation, just why we have abandoned Sir Alan in his hour of needing viewers deserves exploration.

I'll admit I did see the clip that the BBC released earlier in the week to oil the PR cogs and honestly? It was terrible - my dog was flinching at the high pitch squealing ridicule as the apprentice candidates lambasted a garage salesman that he must be wrong quoting his current supplier's charges of £60 to wash three Hummers - when they wanted £300. I know not the outcome, and nor do I need to. It confirmed the worst suspicions!

This programme is so cynically edited to elicit the greatest sense of drama that it leaves little for the viewer to garner any business information from. Okay - it is entertainment and that must be what most viewers want. But don't try and pass it off as anything other than a gameshow.

We also abandoned Dragon's Den just a few episodes into the last series for much the same reasons - and our objection to the blatant way the Dragons (more like wolves if you ask me!) would gang up to ridicule and wear down a candidate... before Colombo-like returning to throw them a lifeline which would tempt them into some awful in-equitable share deal.

I think the only time Dragon's Den would work for a business is if their name was a web address - the marketing of the repeated web address would drive traffic, especially if it were a decent product.

I guess the most amazing thing is that people volunteer for these programmes!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Women in Newbury use networking to raise £600 for charity - doing something clever for money!

While many put on red noses for Comic Relief, over 100 people were donning their thinking caps at Newbury Rugby Club, for a charity quiz in aid of the Rainbow Rooms at Newbury Hospital.

Women in Newbury, one of West Berkshire’s most lively and entertaining networking groups, organised a quiz with the proceeds going toward Newbury and District Cancer Care Trust. The quizmaster was Roland Gardner, Chief Executive of Newbury Building Society, who ensured that there were enough fiendish questions to tax even the most experienced quiz goers in the room.

Morgan PR's very own Diane Morgan chairs the networking group and she explained: “This is the second event the group has held in aid of the Rainbow Rooms and we are thrilled with the response and generosity of those attending. As well as our fabulous raffle with many prizes donated by local companies, Giles Penfound, of Giles Penfound photography kindly donated a limited edition print from his Skies series that was auctioned on the night and reached a winning bid of £100, going to Newbury's finest search engine marketing experts Inspiration Inc.”

If you would like to find out more about this growing group, please visit the Women in Newbury website or contact them on 0845 003 1077 - the group's hotline sponsored and manned by Verbatim.

Pictured above are (from left) Michelle Lucas of Greenfields Consultancy, Roland Gardner, Chief Executive of Newbury Building Society, Win chair Diane Morgan from Morgan PR, Caroline Billington of a-count-a-bility, Ros Comins from Newbury Building Society, Dr Paul Millard, Newbury & District Cancer Care Trust.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

NRG Networks in Bath: seminar on 'Surviving the Broadcast Interview'

Morgan PR heads west today to co-present the 'Surviving the Broadcast Interview' seminar at the NRG Networks meeting in Bath. We take to the stage with former BBC Producer and founder of BizView.TV, Dave Harries.

Our background in broadcast media management for Thames Valley Police gives us a terrific insight not only into what the broadcast media want, but also how best to present that and how to avoid the all too common pitfalls when stepping in front of the video camera or radio microphone.

We are expecting 20 for the lunchtime event being held at the University of Bath and knowing the script it is destined to be a lively event.

Morgan PR will be offering '15 Seconds of Fame - 15 Top Tips for Surviving the Broadcast Interview' as a free download on this month's 'Creating Reputations' Newsletter - subscribe now on this page if you are not already among our loyal readership!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Organic PR: The Video - discover why so many people are raving about this Morgan PR event

Two busy weeks have passed since Morgan PR delivered its Organic PR seminar at the Sheepdrove Eco Centre. It has been tremendously rewarding to see so many of the delegates following our advice and already they are creating a home grown buzz by simply reflecting what they do through blogs, on Twitter and Squidoo.

In a pesticide free nutshell, we maintain that every business is capable of Organic PR and by leveraging the activities within their companies through a joined up strategic approach they can promote themselves to their customers - and of course the media. In the seminar we argued that video goodness was part of that mix so, not surprisingly, we had commissioned a video of the event.

We have talked about Julian Wellings before on this blog for his excellent newsletter support through Expertise on Tap, he is also behind Julian Wellings Films and created this brilliant record of the day:

What do you think? We are touched by the heartfelt testimonials given by so many of the delegates and you can see these on the video. They were – with lovely clickable Google-friendly goodness:

You may have guessed we talked about the importance of hyperlinks and it seems only fair to offer links back to these generous delegates.

We also made a rather generous offer to delegates - as we had paid for Julian Wellings Films to be at the seminar, we were able to share his skills. Delegates were able to record their own promotional video and someone who took up this offer was Mary Thomas of Concise Training - you can view her video below, which perfectly explains how you can benefit from working with her:

We have already had numerous enquiries about the next Organic PR event and will have a date very soon. Do contact us if you would like to reserve a place. We are also exploring delivering the seminar within companies - we would be keen to hear from anyone interested in this service.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A personal recommendation from Seth Godin? Not quite! But Morgan PR does his kind of PR!

Morgan PR has long raved about the marvellous Seth Godin - his books are those most frequently pulled from the shelves, his blog was the first to be honoured with an RSS feed (ensuring we received his blog post promptly) and his books are also frequently given away by us to clients.

So reading his latest blog post: The difference between PR and publicity, has created great excitement in the office because his definition - those most people only do publicity and few doing PR - is one agree with and absolutely, Morgan PR does PR as defined by Seth Godin!

Ask any of the delegates at February's Organic PR seminar we delivered and they would concur. PR is about storytelling and it doesn't always involve the media! Some of our most successful PR has involved a the deft and timely use of Twitter and this blog - with not a journalist in sight (apart from my own reflection!).

Godin says:

A publicity firm will tell you stories of how they got a client ink. A PR firm will talk about storytelling and being remarkable and spreading the word. They might even suggest you don't bother getting ink or issuing press releases.
Yes! Exactly! We do that!

Now, we would forgive you for muttering about the Morgan PR chickens and eggs, querying which arrived most promptly. Are we merely expounding the law according to Seth Godin, or was this always our approach? Honestly... I could not be sure, so long have his books been read that they must have influenced us. Of course, that is why this eptiomy of abundance has written the books!

However, even when this highly sought after poaching consultant was a mere gamekeeper at Thames Valley Police (press officer!) and before I'd be enlightened by Seth Godin's writing, I sensed that some of the best PR I did involved getting the right people talking without a word ever being printed or broadcast. It was never about the headlines - that was the fire fighting. It was about laying the foundations and cultivating the mavens - and it still is.

We quoted our all time favourite Seth Godin line at our Organic PR seminar to encourage delegates to take what they had learned and embrace Organic PR with some actions. We quoted:
Stop trying to be perfect and start being remarkable
Many heeded this fine advice and more on that tomorrow when we post the video of the event!

Morgan PR's new photos from Neale James truly rock thanks to!

Fluttering around Twitter earlier I discovered which can take your photos and create a short film as funky as this one for free!

We had been pondering how to showcase the fabulous photographs taken by Neale James - the award winning photographer you may know from such websites as and

They are for our new Morgan PR website (coming very soon!), but already are creating a stir - not least the Avatar created for my Twitter persona - featured on this video and can be viewed if you follow me on Twitter!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Pension planning over breakfast - just a normal day at the Newbury Business Group

While it is a complete myth that ostriches, when frightened will stick their head in the sand, it is a very useful metaphor when trying to describe the default position when it comes to pension planning.

The uncomfortable importance of pension planning was the thorny subject of the 10 minute presentation at the Newbury Business Group this morning, with member Deane Anderson, an Independent Financial Advisor from Bates Investment Services tackling the challenge with enthusiasm and good humour.

Trying to explain exactly what he said her presents something of a challenge and probably breaks all kinds of compliance rules - suffice to say he started by explaining the pension planning was nothing more than tax efficient savings, went on to firmly illustrate the point, before fielding all manner of nervous questions. You were almost waiting for someone to say: "Well... I've got this friend who is worried about their pension..."

Actually the diversity of questions clearly illustrated why up close and personal advice is essential and Deane made it clear he is the expert we should use!

If I could have invested all the pennies that could be heard dropping within the room this morning... well, that would have been my pension sorted!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Are the national newspapers guilty of 'bulking up' their sales figures?

Do you ever pick up a free copy of a newspaper when you are in a hotel? Or at the airport? Maybe in a fast food restaurant or coffee shop? It might be free to you, but those freebie newspapers count as 'bulk sales'.

Newspapers establish their advertising rates based on the overall sales figures, including these so called 'bulk sales', so it is easy to see how tempting the it must be to fake these figures.

The figures are monitored by the ABC, the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and Roy Greenslade reveals in today Media Guardian that they are about to launch an inquiry to see whether there is any massaging of the figures going on. Apparently they will reveal discrepancies that may herald the end of bulk sales.

The timing could not be worse. Newspapers already suffering the slow hemorrhaging of advertising revenue to Google are now seeing pagination plummet because of the recession. This puts a squeeze on the rates that advertisers will be prepared to pay - if an inquiry reveals figures are dubious it could see the ABC reduce official circulation, prices will have to be reduced still further.

Quoting the most recent ABC figures Greenslade reveals:

"Some daily titles are heavily reliant on bulk sales. According to the ABC report for the month of January, the Daily Mail's bulks averaged 128,770 a day (107,501 of which went to airlines). The Daily Telegraph's were 109,319 (92,088 to airlines), which was almost 12% of its total "headline" sale."
The grim reapers of the recession might not be so keen to report on these stories about themselves, but for businesses who are wisely seeking to market their way out of the recession, it makes it more important than ever to negotiate a good price!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The wraps are off exciting networking venture in Newbury - could you be part of The Non Exec Set?

The first rule of ‘The Non Exec Set’ is - you do not talk about ‘The Non Exec Set’. The second rule of ‘The Non Exec Set’ is - you DO NOT talk about ‘The Non Exec Set’. Third rule of...

Well, whether you or not you are familiar with David Fincher’s 1999 Oscar nominated adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club, you will get the idea that The Non Exec Set is something of a secret organisation – or at least it was! Now the wraps are off!

Yes, one of the toughest requests of a blogger is not to mention something you so want to write about, and the launch over a year ago of this innovative approach to networking has left us fair to frothing over the keyboard at times!

Peer support within large corporate organisations is one of the key elements so often missing among smaller businesses, however two enterprising women from West Berkshire have quietly launched an innovative group called ‘The Non Exec Set’ which remedies this. So successful has the group become that it is set to hold a dining event with a difference in May.

Michelle Lucas (pictured above right) and Lucy Venables (on the left) first met one another at a networking event and discussing their corporate backgrounds prompted a shared belief that there was a gap in what networking could offer. Michelle Lucas explains: “In our transition from corporate life to working in small business we were missing the peer support that you get within large companies; from management team meetings to discussions around the coffee machine.

“We felt that there were other small business owners who had made a similar transition and if we got a group of these people together, we could use the benefit of our joint business and professional experiences to provide that missing support.”

Marketing guru Lucy Venables of Red Prosper Marketing had started her career as a chef and career coach Michelle Lucas, who founded Greenfields Consultancy, had a dining table that held eight people, so the Non Executive Set group was born as a monthly informal dinner party meeting and Morgan PR has been lucky enough to find itself sat around the table on numerous occasions and has met some terrific people – and was never able to blog about it!

To be fair, the confidentiality bred content. The dinner party environment and the commitment to confidentiality allow for some candid questions around the table and some very honest answers and advice from fellow members of ‘The Non Exec Set’. There is rarely a problem that a business owner would be facing for the first time that someone else would not have already dealt with.

Lucy says: “The Non Exec Set is an informal forum where we can discuss the day to day challenges of running our companies - issues our members raise cover marketing, finance and HR, as well as having a setting where they are able to share new ideas – testing the water in a safe environment.”

The growth of the group has seen it move venues and it now alternates between The Square in Weavers Walk Newbury (sister restaurant of Morgan PR favourite Le Petit Square) and The Lamb Inn at Hermitage (although it is technically in Curridge!) and the energy and enthusiasm among members has prompted an ambitious idea which we are delighted to support.

Michelle Lucas explained: “There is a distinct bullish mood among the Non Exec Set members; we do not believe we should lie down and let the economic climate take over. There is lots of activity and positive energy in the group and we want to share this with others, which led to the idea of a larger dining event, on Wednesday 20th May at Donnington Valley Hotel, where we will open up the Non Exec Set and have a number of dinners focusing on topics including people, finance, IT and sales and marketing.

A website explaining more is currently being created by Morgan PR associate Adrian Scott of Companion Computers that will allow those interested in joining The Non Exec Set to discover more about the May event, and the aims and objectives of the group.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Katharine Jayne is an uplifting slice of fashion right in the heart of Newbury

It is nice to discover a fashion retailing success story at a time when the papers are full of news about shops closing down. In the past 18 months Newbury born businesswoman Kate Johnson has established her shop, Katharine Jayne in the Market Place as one of the friendliest places in the area to pick up the latest fashion looks.

Earlier today Morgan PR met with Kate Johnson (or Katharine Jayne Johnson if I were to give a clue to how this store came by its name!) and over coffee she revealed how a career in fashion, including a spell as a fashion and lingerie buyer at Camp Hopson, prepared her well for launching her own business.

"Some people would say it wasn’t a good time to start a new business but having my own shop was a long-held ambition of mine” says Kate. With over 20 years experience in the fashion industry and now buying for ‘Katharine Jayne’s ‘ fifth season, Kate has a clear idea of what works for her customers. “I was determined to appeal to all women, which is reflected in the portfolio of our brand mix so we keep everything wearable but interesting and within sensible budgets.

"We offer clothes that are well made and use quality fabrics so our customers look and feel good wearing them. Fabrics are very important to me and my customers. Many of the ranges are offered from a size eight to size 16 and if we do not have a particular size in store we will try and meet requests. I see one of my most important jobs is to bring in something new and exciting every season."

We were given the opportunity to meet Kate thanks to the Newbury Weekly News, for whom Morgan PR write many of the features that appear in Newbury Business Today, and you can learn more about Katherine Jayne in the edition out on March 12.

Also, keep clicking on the Katharine Jayne website - it is nearing completion and should be bursting into life any day now.