Tuesday, April 28, 2009

“Be Seen, Be Safe” message given to Little Jogs Day Nursery children

Little Jogs Day Nursery in Hungerford held a ‘Safety Day’ on today to help the children stay safe when they are out and about in Hungerford.

PC Claire Drewitt, Hungerford Neighbourhood officer, came along to talk to the children about what the police do and how they help them stay safe. The children all enjoyed hearing about the different roles that the police have and seeing the pictures of police dogs, horses and the helicopter.

PC Drewitt said, “The children were all very attentive to my input today and it’s great to be working to educate them in such a positive way.”

The highlight of the trip was when the children went outside to the police car and were allowed to sit in the driver’s seat, with the lights flashing and siren sounding.

The nursery children have new high visibility safety vests to wear when they are out and about on their frequent trips into Hungerford town. These smart vests have reflective strips and the name and logo of the nursery on the back.

Neale Marney MBE from the West Berkshire Rapid Response Car also popped in to speak to the children and explain about staying safe on the roads, to make sure that they don’t need his services!

Deputy Nursery Manager, Claire Taylor, explained: “It is very important to us that the children understand how to stay safe when they are out and about. We are really grateful to PC Drewitt and Neale Marney for talking to the children today and helping them to understand how important road safety is. The children look great in their new vests and we are looking forward to many trips out in them over the hot summer months”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Disorder in court - Twitter magistrate wrong to resign

Talk about disorder in court - Professor Steve Molyneux, a magistrates of some 16-years-standing, has been forced to resign after he Twittered about life on the bench, in what appears to a rather dramatic and ill considered reaction by an all too remote part of the judiciary to someone embracing new technology.

It seems to be a kneejerk and recoiling reaction much in the vein of the Daily Mail who variously report that Twitter can make you immoral through to Facebook gives you Cancer. Yet constantly magistrates' courts lament the lack of coverage for its work and with the demise of so many district and local newspapers in the current climate it seems that court coverage will diminish ever further. And remember it is important not only that justice is done, but that justice is seen to be done. Twitter could have helped that!

'ProfOnTheprowl' is Prof Molyneux's Twitter name, which does have a slightly sinister undertone, and if you read the fulsome account in the Daily Mail he did make some quite detailed tweets, including one that was prejudicial about considerations for bail, which as a journalist I would never have reported - and I spent countless hours reporting court! But hang on, these were only read by a relatively small audience - which is no doubt set to grow in light of all the publicity and blogging that it taking place. They were being made in the absence of any guidance - and remember magistrates are not legally qualified. Did he make mistakes? Almost certainly - should he have been pilloried in this way? Definitely not!

The clumsy attempt at crisis management (it was never a crisis, but they treated it as one!) might just have worked because so few people are concerned with what happens in Magistrates courts. For all the current furore,it was on the 18th March this year that he twittered about his resignation and only five weeks later it has made it into the real world - and that only after The Shropshire Star reported on it.

How could it better have been handled? Oh so much better!

I am reminded of an occasion as a very young journalist, held back by the onerous requirements of A-levels (yes, that young!) when my school kept finding itself in the headlines - through none of my efforts (any local newspaper should have a myriad of ways to learn what is going on in a school!). However, I found myself hauled before the headteacher and literally accused of telling tales out of school! Youthful indignation meant I would never confirm nor honestly deny and I asked for proof and it only ended when my editor stepped in and took the unique step of saying I had never supplied information on the school. I always felt - and this was without the benefit of the crisis management subsequently learned at Thames Valley Police as a press officer - that a better way to have handled it would have been to embrace my involvement with the newspaper to promote the school!

In this case of Prof Molyneux, would it not have been better to asked him to come up with a policy for allowing Magistrates to use Twitter? Or to simply explore whether it was wise for Magistrates to use new media to discuss their work? When you consider that across the UK the demographic of magistrates is predominantly white and retired, using new media might attract younger people to the bench - how amazing would that be?

After all, it is not as if Magistrates do not blog - check out 'The Magistrate's Blog' which is popular and up to date on 'musings and snippets from an English Magistrate' - although significantly it is anonymous. You have to wonder is anyone else in

I once heard about a case where a judge fell asleep during a trial and it was the media who reported that who were spanked for defamation - but that is another, legally perilous story!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oh Canada... in Northumberland! Recovered with great PR?

Oh Canada... in Northumberland? What a magnificent blunder! Alberta in Cananda used a photo of Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland (pictured above) - this is landlocked Alberta (although it does have many nice lakes!). Viral uproar is raging around the net and the story is being comprehensively reported - creating a public relations nightmare.

While closer to home the headlines are harsher and called the Alberta Government to account. So what do you do in such circumstances? Well no comment will not suffice - it rarely does when public relations turns into crisis management. Although that said, Calder Bateman, the Alberta public relations company responsible for the campaign has stayed tight lipped about the blunder - and to be fair, with a Government client left making excuses it was probably the best course of action for them. As their flashy and sparse website says: "Our work speaks for itself. In fact we've already said too much." Quite!

Fortunately the Alberta Government did have an inkling of how to deal with this and turned to its own 'Your Alberta Blog', where it posted a refreshingly honest and apologetic account under PAB (Public Affairs Bureau) screwed up. They say:

The whole world seems a twitter over a screw up by we of the Public Affairs Bureau, Government of Alberta.

In our branding initiative, we put together some very striking images of our beautiful province, and wove them around a narrative that we came to call the Alberta story.

At one point in the narrative we mentioned our regard for people in other places, and in that place we used the only image that did not come from Alberta. Intentionally. We all knew that every single image we put out to represent Alberta had to be of Alberta, or we would be roasted...

Then we screwed up.

We took images from the narrative, and used them as standalone still pictures on our website. And along the line, we grabbed that one, solitary image that was not from Alberta and added our nifty new "Alberta" signature.

We're sorry.

The picture has been removed from the cycle of standalone images, however it still lives in the narrative, as you will see in the above link.

And, Northumberland, you are beautiful, too.

Nice touch on the comment about Northumberland! Although they do still try and claim it was intentional to have a foreign section included, which mitigates the fullness of the admission.

Even dark clouds of negative public relations can have silver linings - traffic to Alberta's websites has naturally gone through the roof and even when you dimiss the Northumberland photo, this is clearly a stunning part of Canada. Of course, it is a brave an Machiavellian person who makes the mistake to achieve this.

A more recent post on the Alberta blog actually talks about the 'One Lonely Ray of Sunshine' being just this increase in traffic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Oh Brother how fab art thou?

Oh Brother how fab art thou? The normally excellent Brother HL 4040CN laser printer here in the Morgan PR office has been problematic - dark smudges and inkspots were making printed pages look awful.

We were worried about what the customer service would be like trying to track down help for a printer that was by mere days, more than 12 months old. You hear horror stories of lives wasting away on hold to premium rate numbers in distant lands...

We test customer service through our mystery shopping services, including telephone mystery shopping and video mystery shopping and while we do find many good examples, it is often the case that the bigger the company the worst the customer service will be!

We need not have worried. We contacted Misco, who we bought the printer from last year, and they we happy to help and immediately connected us to a Brother helpline - where a very patient man talked us through taking the machine apart and cleaning it - and he was suitably impressed to discover we had actually already done this after reading about in the manual - sometimes it pays to RTFM!

Anyway, he talked us through cleaning it more and we discovered one of the print cartridges appeared to be leaking. Luckily we had a replacement and with that in place it was all working - and all this in about 10 minutes chatting to very nice man from Brother!

And there was more - as the print cartridge was made by Brother, he supplied us with a address to send it back to them where they will explore what went wrong - and they would then supply us with a replacement.

How about then for excellent customer service? Good public relations too - much of PR is about getting people talking about you and not only have we blogged, it has been mentioned in emails and we'll Twitter about it too.

The icing on what has been a most delicious cake will be if Brother spot this blog or the Twitter postings - that would be truly remarkable customer service if they are monitoring the blogosphere for issues good or bad!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cybersquatters target Susan Boyle, but how about your domains?

Cybersquatters have been targetting Susan Boyle from Britain's Got Talent - the Guardian hasreported that people have been busy registering domain names related to the senational singer.

Many will have good intentions and want to set up fan websites, but no doubt some have more sinister aims and will be hoping to cash in. Cybersquatters may have dropped out of the headlines - reflecting the scarcity of lucrative domains - but they still roam cyberspace hunting for vulnerable domains that may not have been re-renewed or simply become available. We will assume you have secured www.yourbusinessname.com or as close as you can get, or even better for search engine optimisation (SEO): www.yourservicetpluslocation.com but there are other domains that are of growing importance and the cybersquatters are sailing towards them in ever greater numbers.

We are talking Twitter - you do need to register your business and personal names on Twitter and you need to do it quickly! This is easily done if you visit www.twitter.com and click join. Follow the simple instructions and you will soon have your Twitter domain name - mine is www.twitter.com/nigel_morgan and we have a host of others we know we will use in the future.

So even if you scoff at Twitter and believe that, much like what you said about compact discs and The Internet, 'it will never catch on', believe us when we say Twitter is here to stay. Cnet reported that between February 08 and February 09 it grew by 1,382%, rocketing from 475,000 users to 7,038,000 - and has probably doubled since then!

If you do not register your Twitter domain then someone else will. Do it, do it now! Tell your colleagues and friends to do it now! You can thank us later!

If that inspires you to take action, then also think about visiting Squidoo. As we reported in our April newsletter, Squidoo was set up way back in 2005 by our favourite marketing guru Seth Godin and essentially it is made up of user generated ‘lenses’. These are easily created single web pages the are great for Search Engine Optimsation SEO and much like twitter would be www.squidoo.com/yournamehere so just like Twitter they are disappearing as more people use the site.

Squidoo has different categories of lenses, including business and many make significant sums of money through affiliate marketing. We are turning some of the downloads you find within our free resources into lenses. You can see The Seven Deadly PR Sins and The Joy of Six on Squidoo and will notice that while the words are much the same; the format has changed and most importantly will be reaching a new audience. Through very simple steps our domains are protected and our e-footprint just got bigger!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to get the most from your public relations budget

Absolutely you should get the most from your public relations budget - but today Morgan PR is talking about The Budget - the one that the media are in a lather about and hunting for businesses and professionals to react to the Chancellor's announcements.

So what are you talking about? How does it impact on your business in Newbury? Or West Berkshire? Anywhere in the UK? The Budget will have a mighty impact and if you can articulate that to your local media they will listen and busily promote your business as they report your views.

So whether it has helped your business or caused harm - or perhaps it has ignored your plight entirely, you have a terrific public relations opportunity sitting in your lap - but you have to act fast. The half-life of this story fades away very quickly and beyond today that chances will be thin on the ground.

So, just take a moment and jot down the key way the budget impacts on your business. Next write down three key points you would make about this impact. Say them out loud and try them out on a colleague - do you sound authorative? Angry? Inspired? Decide your 'motivation'!

Next, call your local paper and local BBC and independent radio stations and ask to speak to the reporter covering the budget - and tell them your key points. Try to stick to them lest they report an aside you make or something less relevant.

Then contact Morgan PR and let us know how successful you have been! Good luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Morgan PR newsletter hailed 'Best Practice' by ActionCOACH at Newbury business seminar

Morgan PR's newsletter has been hailed as an example of 'Best Practice' by none other than ActionCOACH at a seminar held at Newbury Racecourse today.

ActionCOACH is the world's leading business coaching organisation and we were delighted to discover that seasoned ActionCOACH Alex Petty was featuring us during the free 'The 6 Steps to Business Growth' seminar held at the Nuffield Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Centre in the town.

Morgan PR is a veteran of ActionCOACH and familiar with the six steps and we know all too well how important keeping in touch with clients and prospects is - and this has been a key driver in producing such a quality newsletter for the past seven months.

We work with Julian Wellings of Expertise on Tap to ensure that our wise words are presented in the best possible format and that the distribution goes smoothly, never knowingly spamming anyone and follow the best practice guidelines that he has explained - the combination of careful target and considered delivery is why we achieve consistently high open rates, click throughs and forwards.

Understandably he was thrilled to know our partnership has won yet more fans and commented: "I'm delighted to be working with Morgan PR producing their monthly e-newsletter and to hear that ActionCOACH view it as a best practice example. I'm equally delighted every month when Nigel Morgan tells me that he's gained new business as a direct result of his e-newsletter!"

There is still time to see Alex Petty in action (pun woefully intended) this Thursday 23rd April 2009 at 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start at the Nuffield Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Centre at Newbury Racecourse by telephoning 0845 003 9177.

Alex Petty explained: "We will take delegates through the six proven steps to build a successful business. This workshop is designed for every business and will take them through each step to climb the ladder of business growth and have a commercial, profitable enterprise that works without them; they will see how their business will grow through the six steps."

There is also the chance to meet Alex Petty and other local business coaches on Wednesday 29th April 2009 when they host 'Leverage - The Game of Business'. Now Morgan PR are so adept at this sensational board game that the last time we tried to play we were appointed bankers! This is a fun way to learn the skills to 'leverage' your business and the £15 ticket price will help raise money for Mencap West Berkshire. Again call 0845 003 9177 if you would like to take part.

How to choose a photographer for your public relations

The latest edition of Creating Reputations, the Morgan PR Newsletter is out today and already analytics are showing it is proving popular as ever - not least our latest free download: 'How to choose a photographer for your public relations and marketing'.

If you are a subscriber of Creating Reputations you will already have the link, alternatively take a look at our Free Resources, where you will not only find 'How to choose a photographer' but also our other free downloads!

We were prompted to write about choosing a photographer after having such a fabulous time working with the very talented Neale James when pulling together a portfolio for this site and our other marketing collateral

This month's newsletter also takes a look at Squidoo and looks at our two lenses on the popular website - namely The Seven Deadly PR Sins and The Joy of Six - How to Ensure Press Release Satisfaction. The more observant of you might be saying "Hey - aren't they available on your Free Resources?" Yes, and they have also been blogged about and Twittered about - the point is ensuring they reach as wider audience as possible!

We aim to give our readers help and advice on all things public relations by publishing the monthly newsletter. It also offers Morgan PR terrific Search Engine Optimisation by adding sparkling and fresh relevant copy to our website - be sure to subscribe today!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thatcham Kitchen Designs offer peace of mind in the recession

With the recession biting ever deeper, prudent homeowners are being very careful when it comes to investing in the future value of their home - which is why the safeguards offered by Thatcham Kitchen Designs are proving such a winner with people opting to focus on the most important room in the house.

Morgan PR has worked with Thatcham Kitchen Designs for a number of years now and uses public relations techniques to promote their remarkable attention to detail and passion for delivering personal customer service is ensuring they are keeping busy in these challenging times.

Last year ended with at least two local kitchen companies disappearing and this has made people understandably nervous about entrusting either their money or their dreams of a new kitchen lightly. Thankfully Thatcham Kitchen Designs is one name on the high street that can be relied upon: it is your local experienced company accredited to the KBSA, which offers safeguards for customers who use the services of Approved Members.

Owner Caroline Ware explains it better than us! She says: “While our reputation as a reliable and friendly company precedes us, people can buy with confidence knowing that we are members of the KBSA - the Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association.

“The KBSA offers unrivalled comprehensive consumer protection, including its Consumer Care plus scheme which covers, deposits advanced payments and a six year warranty for our workmanship, which is completed to Trustmark standard. We are an established company and a business that people can trust and the KBSA accreditation is proof of that and guarantees peace of mind for our customers in these worrying times. They can buy with confidence.

“Whether people are choosing a new kitchen because they cannot sell or because they recognise that a quality kitchen will help sell a home even in the slowest market, we can offer a solution. It is such an important room of the house that given the choice between similar homes, where one has a quality kitchen, it is that one that will always be chosen first."

Kevin Ware said: “Customers recognise the excellent value for money we offer too, with a comprehensive range of choice at competitive prices, people can find the kitchen they want. We visit your home for a free comprehensive site survey, we support that with detailed design and quotation including installation by skilled craftsmen.”

Thatcham Kitchen Designs, your established friendly kitchen design studio is open at 44 The Broadway, Thatcham from 09.30 to 17.00 Monday to Thursday, 09.30-16.30 Friday and 09.30-13.00 Saturday. Telephone (01635) 863853 for more details or visit their website where you can request a brochure.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Photo galleries help make newspaper websites 'sticky'

Photo galleries help makes newspaper websites 'sticky' - which is great web design as that means they encourage visitors to spend longer on the website as they click through the glorious images. It is also excellent Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as bloggers like Morgan PR here in West Berkshire, will link to such galleries and Google loves those inbound links.

Of course, the internet has delivered a terrific medium for newspapers to showcase photography in away the print equivalent never could. Do you recall how we would pore over those glossy 'Review of the Year' style supplements admiring photographs that were rarely seen in such concentration.

It also means that stunning photographs that might not cut the mustard as news, do get showcased - like these two Ferruginous Pygmy-owls called Bruno (left) and Braulio which were donated to the National Zoo of Managua, Nicaragua which is featured on the Telegraph's Earth Picture Galleries. It was captured on flash memory by a professional photographer from epa - the European Presssphoto Agency.

Such galleries has driven a growth in the popularity of such professional services - although equally the price has been driven down on all but exclusive images as budget pressures prompt newspapers to turn to cheaper and often generic stock photography. The quality can still be exceptional, but some readers might be surprised to discover this is happening. Significantly, when we read newspapers online we normally open all of them in tabs on the Firefox browser - and you quickly spot original photography and this can influence what we read. A lesson there surely?

Another clever approach is the use of user generated content - and it doesn't come cheaper. Times Online does this really well, and here readers are not necessarily clicking to see truly remarkable images (although to be fair they often do) they are making comparisons with their own efforts in a way they never would with professional images. Again making the site very sticky.

Incidentally, while you have certainly seen plenty of epa's work, you might have heard of them too. The company built a name as the leading newsphoto source from Europe since its foundation in 1985. epa is owned by eleven of Europe’s finest news and pictures agencies and they send out more than 1,000 photographs every day. They have also recently signed a deal with Google under which the search engine will host epa content on Google News. Under the agreement, Google News users will be able to quickly and easily find original text stories and photos from the online services. This is a contrast with many newspapers who bitterly resent that Google searches and returns links to their content without realise that Google is driving traffic to their websites!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Very public relations with funny lady Lucy Porter

When it comes to crisis management we do not often find Morgan PR helping out comedians! However, tonight we were at Arlington Arts to see the comic Lucy Porter and I found myself throwing her a lifeline - or rather a lively line as her show ended.

Together with Diane we were brazenly sat front and centre and like many of those in the front row found ourselves interacting with the petitie comic. Some of you will be breaking out in a sweat at the mere thought of sitting at the front of a combative comedy show, but as a veteran comedy reviewer it rarely bothers me - although even I am wary of the blitz style comedians who bludgen you rather than risk a witty heckle.

Comedians are often surprised at how comfortable I am - when Russell Howard - the West Country funny guy on Mock the Week - was at this venue and tried to get a rise out of me he gave up saying it felt like lapdance comedy!

I actually stopped reviewing comedy a few years ago when I realised my reviews were getting ever more harsh even though upon reflection that my guests and the rest of the audience had thoroughly enjoyed themselves. So now we tend to be quite choosy about what we go and see, and having found Lucy Porter entertaining when we saw her last year at South Street in Reading, we came back for seconds.

She has a disarming charm that lulls the audience into relaxing, before her potty mouth and wicked sense of humour jump to the fore and delightfully shock. It was an innocent story about her singing while doing chores at home that prompted one audience member to ask if she sang on the toilet. So began a rich vein of humour that had Lucy asking the audience for suggestions of appropriate - or rather inappropriate songs.

I offered up Queen's 'Flash Gordon', where Flash would become flush - which kinda worked but I knew I could do better. And I pondered as the show marched on and she promised the show would finish with the 'song'.

However at the end the suggestions were poor and it was in danger of falling flat... which was when I offered, with reassuringly good comic timing, the Kate Bush song 'Wuthering Heights', with the second word being substituted with an altogether more scatalogical term! It worked and went down a storm.

The really interesting benefit of the interaction was the discovery of just how many people in the audience knew us, many stopping to say hello at the end. So being funny can be great public relations!

It also meant we were still chatting when Lucy Porter popped out to collect her bits and we got chatting with her generously saying 'Wuthering Heights' had saved the show. We swapped stories on legendary heckles - including one I am responsible for that has since been told by other comedians - but that one is NSFW - Not Safe For Work.