Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy 2017!

2016 will go down as the year that took away many beloved actors, performers, singers and comedians, as well as being one of political mayhem. However, in terms of gaining press coverage, it has been one of my favourites. There was so much going on and I was lucky enough to work with a range of great clients who gained fantastic press coverage in local newspapers, national newspapers, magazines and online.

However, after much thought, I've selected this piece here as my all-time favourite piece of the year - it was on the Beat the Street walking campaign that took place all over the UK and internationally. This particular piece was about the rivalry between the games in Wolverhampton and Sandwell; the reporter has really captured the addictiveness of the game and its popularity.

https://www.facebook.com/midlandstoday/videos/10153965983999761


I'd like to thank you for reading, for your support and for working with me in 2016! If you'd like a hand with PR in 2017, please get in touch!

Happy new year!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Meditation in Newbury with Carolyn Luckygirl

It’s a beautiful summer’s evening and a group of people are sitting in silence next to St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church in Enborne.

In a busy world, it’s a rare sight to see people sitting so still and peacefully – there’s no sound at all apart from the occasional bird call.

This is one of Carolyn Sykes’ meditation sessions for busy people looking for a bit of time to calm the mind and give it space to recalibrate.

Carolyn has been teaching meditation for seven years – long before mindfulness became fashionable, and she is well-known locally as a reiki healer, acupuncturist and Kennet Radio host.

After a career in the horse-racing industry, Carolyn sought a different lifestyle and trained with renowned meditation expert Sandy Newbiggin and the Barefoot Doctor. She now runs bespoke meditation sessions, plus monthly “MindCalm” group courses for people who wish to experience guided meditation plus a more spiritual and ethereal session weekly in Enborne on Thursdays.


Her mission is to help people declutter their minds to enable them to focus on what’s important.

She said: “I initially started teaching reiki in my hometown of Swansea but then saw a need for busy professionals to try meditation. Back then, meditation was seen as something a bit ‘woo-woo’ and out there but since I’ve moved to Newbury, I’ve noticed a real need for busy professionals who need a bit of peace and a break from the stresses of work. Meditation can really help with issues such as anxiety, sleep problems and depression and really help you get your life back on course and improve your outlook. Things don’t bother you so much. While you can’t turn your mind off, you can make peace with it and become empowered to use elements from the class in daily life.”

Carolyn’s sessions typically include an introduction incorporating elements of tai chi and yoga followed up by a talk and up to 30 minutes of meditation.

For a beginner, a half hour can be a long time to sit still and one of Carolyn’s clients Sandra Izoulet jokes that her first experience was “extremely difficult with thoughts flying through my mind and an overwhelming sense of itchiness all over my body!”

However, within just a couple of sessions, she started to find it hugely beneficial and has now been attending session for 18 months. She said: “Lots of people have remarked on how I seem different now. I’m much calmer and less likely to react to daily life.”

Carolyn describes these feelings as normal as meditations removes the distractions of work and life, making your mind more inclined to listen to your body, bringing aches, pains and itchiness to the fore.

She said: “It happens to everyone but it really doesn’t matter. After a session or two, you’ll settle in and after all, it really only takes a moment of tuning in to benefit from meditation. It does get easier with practice.”

As well as giving peace and calm, meditation is said to help with everything from reducing blood pressure to boosting your immune system and even can assist with sleeping problems and attention span.

Classes cost £10. For more information, click onto www.carolynluckygirl.com

Tips for newcomers to meditation

1. Wear comfortable clothes

Start by relaxing your body before your mind with a five minute warm-up and stretching
Choose the time of day that best suits you and your body -some people like to start their day with meditation while others prefer the evening or after work.
Carolyn recommends avoiding apps as they become too much of a prop and people can believe they’re meditating when they’re not.
Don’t worry if odd thoughts fly into your mind. Just acknowledge it and let it pass.
Don’t panic if you can’t sit still. Just one minute of meditation is better than none and a good place to start.
Get outside where possible. Sitting in nature is a good way to reconnect.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Jill Thorpe from Develop your Dog



It’s often said that a dog is man’s best friend, and if there’s anything better than having a furry companion by your side, it’s having one that’s well-trained.



That’s why Jill Thorpe from Develop Your Dog is one of the go-to trainers in West Berkshire and beyond for all kinds of dog training from puppy training to obedience classes right through to gundog training.



Dog ownership all starts with assessing whether you’re ready for a dog and what breed might suit your lifestyle. Jill can give impartial advice on this and can help you find a dog from a reputable breeder.



Once you’ve brought your four-legged friend home, Jill can then help with understanding how your dog ticks, plus socialising it and introducing the dog to its new environment.



Jill said: “I want to be able to share my experience and give practical advice and support from how to go about choosing the right breed to suit your lifestyle to how to teach the basic commands.



“I give an insight into how the dog’s mind works so that people can understand why our dogs do the things they do which helps with the socialisation and habituation of the dog so it’s prepared for living in our world. I also advise owners of older dogs on how to avoid common problems and set themselves up to succeed.”



Typical problems for many dog owners are behavioural issues such as struggling with recall, jumping up, pulling on the lead, and general obedience – all of which, Jill says, are fixable with patience and training.



After classes your dogs will no longer be straining on leashes or racing off into fields chasing birds and ignoring your calls. Gundogs will be well-trained and owners will be able to take and work them on shoots.



Jill adds: “I love what I do. The joy of seeing the relationship and bond grow between owners and their dogs; there is nothing better than when a client is relieved that there is a solution to a frustrating long-term problem that they have been living with.”



Jill has had dogs all of her life but got into the business when she successfully trained a difficult one of her own. Realising she had a flair, she ditched the corporate life and turned her passion for dog training into her career. She has since trained literally hundreds of dogs and has an Advanced Canine Behaviour and Psychology Diploma awarded by the Pet Education, Training and Behaviour Council.



Jill said: “I came into dog training through a friend who introduced me into the shooting world where I discovered the joy of training a working Labrador to the job in which she was bred for. I discovered a whole new community that I never knew existed and began to understand why for example spaniels have such busy personalities -when you see what they are expected to do on a shoot it makes complete sense why they dash from side to side in the undergrowth.



“I currently have three dogs and have always had dogs in my life, whilst growing up we had Golden Retrievers, and I’ve had five Labradors, and more recently a Cocker Spaniel.”



Jill believes in a balanced approach to training where the key to success lies with consistency. She uses reward-based methods but crucially, makes her sessions practical and fun. She focuses on enhancing communication to help build a stronger bond between dog and owner.



She adds: “For clients whose dogs are exhibiting problem behaviours that they need help with, I provide a structured framework for them to work to and show them how to go about putting it into practice. The sorts of problems I help fix are territorial aggression, for example when the dog rushes up to the garden gate barking at passers-by; destructive behaviour such as digging up the garden and chewing the furniture; scavenging food, jumping up, pulling on the lead and dogs that don’t have any self-control.”



She said: “It can be really tricky and isolating for owners with difficult dogs as it sometimes means they are nervous about taking their pets out in public for fear of what might happen.

“Behaviour clients may wish to re-train their dogs because they are being anti-social; they become too strong both mentally and physically.”



Jill runs fortnightly mid-week classes at Marlborough Cricket Club, plus classes in Clanville Village Hall near Andover every Tuesday for six weeks. Future classes are planned for Newbury and Hungerford.



Additionally, she runs home visits by appointment throughout West Berkshire and North Hampshire for puppies, and consultations of dogs with behavioural issues.



www.developyourdog.co.uk





Tips on toilet training:



Toilet training your new puppy can be one of the very first challenges you face when you bring your new bundle of fun home.



First and foremost – there’s no need to buy expensive toilet training pads, neither do you need to use newspaper. Using pads or paper will only lull you into a false sense of security thinking you have the puppy toilet trained, but you then have to go on to repeat the whole training process for your puppy to learn to perform outside. The pads sound like a great idea but the feel of them is very similar to your carpets, rugs, towels and so on as far as the puppy is concerned.
Start off as you mean to go on and make it your mission to get your puppy outside every couple of hours. Take your puppy, on lead, to the spot where you want it to relieve itself and allow it to wander around and sniff. Once your puppy squats I find it useful to attach a word to the action so later on I can get the dog to perform on command. Repeat the word whilst the puppy is having a wee for example “good dog, hurry up, good dog”, and then when they have finished give them a reward.


Try not to worry if you have the occasional accident indoors – it happens – just clear it up straight away without fuss and ideally with a product that totally eradicates the smell. Inconsistency and inattention usually leads to mishaps so please remember your puppy is learning and needs to be taken out after he eats, drinks, sleeps and exercises.


*Appeared first in Out and About magazine free with the Newbury Weekly News….


Friday, 10 June 2016

Smarter Travel

Thank you for using this one!




.

Sledge Hammer

I reminisce about a favourite TV comedy that should have been more famous than it was! Perhaps I shouldn't have let LO watch it though!

https://newburymummy.com/2016/06/10/sledge-hammer/

Monday, 16 May 2016

Driving ahead!

Good news for these guys! Not only did they appear in this news piece, but they also had that there Peter Andre in the back of one of the cars this week too!

www.insidermedia.com/insider/central-and-east/starlite-limos-acquired-by-employee

Sunday, 15 May 2016

How to find a story from your business

*




I was honoured to have given the talk to the inspirational ladies of the Athena Network at Newbury West last week where we had a quick look at ways you can find stories to share with the media from within your own business. I'm much better at writing than speaking, so I thought it would be useful to note down some of my tips. In my job, I often sit down with people that are keen to do PR and ask them what’s going on of interest.

Usually, they say something like: “Nothing! Oh, but we are going to be at the Newbury Show”.

The Newbury Show aside, with some gentle (well, I try), questioning from me, generally, people are able to find a suite of stories to keep them busy for the next few months.

Here are the tips that I shared with the Athena ladies in the 10 minutes that I had (that seemed to fly by!).



• Running a business is hard work and PR is something that gets pushed to the bottom of the list as we’re busy, well, running our businesses. However, set time aside to look at what you’re doing now that might be of interest to a wider audience and look ahead to the next few months to see what’s happening; anniversaries, special events, awards

• What events are coming up on the news agenda that you could piggyback onto? Perhaps you’re holding a customer event to celebrate the Queen’s birthday; perhaps your firm has something important to say about whether the UK should remain in Europe or maybe you are an artist and author who was inspired by Beatrix Potter?

• Chat to your staff. What are they up to that could help with a news story? Perhaps you have a talented cyclist in the team or some of them are doing the Race for Life? Perhaps one is approaching their 25th anniversary of working with you?

• Chat to your customers. How have you changed their lives? Perhaps you’ve sold them a special car that means they wouldn’t have been able to get around otherwise? Perhaps you’ve held an event where two of the participants have got married and wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for you? Too strange? Not really; these are both real examples that I have come across and written about in the past!

• Read the local news. You need to know what’s happening in your area and to understand the kind of stories that appear. They are a fantastic source of inspiration.

• Likewise, read the national news so that you know what the current talking points are. Can you put a trade or local spin on a story? For example, are you an estate agent who can talk about the effect of a forthcoming interest rate rise on the local housing market? Are you a pub landlord whose business could struggle when new legislation comes into play? Did you meet the Queen or David Bowie or Victoria Wood?

• Charities
It’s always nice to do good locally or to raise funds for a cause close to your heart. What are you and your team doing for charity and why have you chosen that particular one? Raising money in a fun way makes a great story as it makes everyone look good. Don’t forget that as well as your charities, there are also fundraising events such as Dementia Awareness Week (this week!), MacMillan Cancer Care’s coffee mornings, Children in Need and Sport Relief/Comic Relief which often get a double page spread in local papers.

So, block some time off in your diary and have a good think! Good luck!



*Pic from the brilliant Self Journal

Monday, 9 May 2016

New vets building!

http://www.chelmsfordweeklynews.co.uk/news/maldon/14398348.Vet_surgery_completes_new_state_of_the_art_building/

Boat yard embarks on manufacturing venture

http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/central-and-east/boat-yard-embarks-on-manufacturing-venture

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Athena speakers in May

More than 80 local businesswomen will come together for The Athena Network’s four West Berkshire meetings this month.

Members and guests can look forward to networking and training on various business topics over lunch.

The first event is the Newbury West meeting that takes place on Thursday, 12th May at The Red House, Marsh Benham where I will be talking about PR for small businesses and Kate Talbot from Shore Financial will be offering advice on giving and receiving testimonials.

On Friday, 13th May, the Hungerford meeting takes place at Audley Inglewood in Kintbury and Toni Kent will be talking about “elevator” pitches with an interactive exercise to help clarity and confidence. The Athena Network regional director Debbie Miles will lead a discussion about the business challenges that keep people awake at night.

The Thatcham meeting takes place on Tuesday, 17th May at the Regency Park Hotel where Sam Crowe will be discussing how to use PR in a marketing plan
The Newbury Central meeting takes place on Wednesday, 18th May at the Donnington Valley Hotel where Claire Burdett from The Media Marketing Co will be explaining search engine optimisation.

Debbie Miles said: “We’re excited to have a range of speakers from within our groups who will be sharing tips and advice that will provide practical help for our businesses.”

All Athena meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm and must be booked in advance.


House of Delight

http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/central-and-east/essex-restaurant-doubles-in-size


http://www.maldonandburnhamstandard.co.uk/news/14458296.Popular_Maldon_Chinese_takeaway_and_restaurant_expands/


.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Office life: What I learned from the finale of Line of Duty (season 3)

So who caught the finale of Line of Duty on Thursday? What a ride! Two compelling interview scenes (accompanied by much shouting at the TV from MrM and me), before a brilliant text that culminates in an hilarious chase scene through central Belfast and the death of the Caddy.

My nerves have been completely shred, but I'm even contemplating watching it all again as there are unanswered questions. Who killed the Caddy? Why did the driver of the Range Rover drive around in circles? Is it possible to keep running after you've been knocked down? Why is Neil Morrissey mowing a lawn that has clearly just been done?

I also realised that I still have a soft spot for the brilliant Adrian Dunbar, long after seeing him in one of the most underrated films ever; Hear my Song.



But for a home-based worker like me, the episode provided a fabulous guide on how to navigate the tricky task of working in an office. Here are some of the top tips I learned in the 90-minute finale:

Never trust a colleague
Office politics eh? There's always someone who will try to play you off against the MD, show you up in front of your colleagues, email you to tell you that one of your documents needs to be in a 12 point font size instead of 11, or steal your car and frame you for murder. The Caddy's machinations have rumbled on undetected for five episodes, before he talked himself into a dead end and sent a pre-prepared text message. Which leads me onto..

2. "Urgent exit required"

This is actually trending on Twitter at the moment and I have saved this into the drafts folder on my phone just in case our next team meeting overruns. However, had I been the Caddy, under pressure, I would probably would have sent it to my mum by accident, instead of "ride", "removal" and "talk".

3. Drink lots of water

It's easy to forget to stay hydrated in a busy air-conditioned environment, but Line of Duty had plenty of reminders to drink water. Each interview scene contained much water sipping - not only is it good for your health, it's a good way of giving yourself thinking time when you're about to lay the clues down to suggest that one of your colleagues is corrupt.

4. Hanging on the side of a lorry

Next time I'm late for work, I will seriously consider hanging off the side of a lorry. None of the public seemed terribly surprised to see an armed police officer hitching a ride this way, and it is almost as fast as running.

5. WHOM!

Correcting someone's grammar in the middle of a heated row needn't be contained within my head anymore thanks to the frighteningly slick Gill Bigelow. Earlier this week, a colleague phoned me to berate me about some figures and continually repeated the words: "amount of people"; "amount of children" "amount of adults" until I could take it no more and childishly shouted "NUMBER, NUMBER, NUMBER" down the phone. Gill pulled this off in a much more ladylike way, correcting Kate Fleming's "who" to a "whom". Even when you're facing losing your job or possible arrest, never forget the principles of basic grammar.

6. How to multitask

Lastly, when small son was a baby, I didn't have the brain capacity to even remember how to walk in a straight line, but let's not forget that the copper who helped to provide the info that would incriminate the Caddy, had a tiny baby that she brought into the office late at night. If anyone should have received a commendation at the end of the episode, it was her.




Thursday, 28 April 2016

Newbury Emporium - antiques, vintage and collectables, opening 1st May




Newbury Emporium – a centre with more than 30 antique dealers and specialists - is set to open its doors in the former Melville Burbage building in Bartholomew Street, Newbury this week (1st May).
Business partners Penny Morgan and Gary Wilkinson are moving the popular Marlborough Parade Antique Centre, which they have owned and managed since 2003, to Newbury to bring the concept to a new audience. Penny also owns Thatcham Jewellers and Hungerford Jewellers.

The centre will be open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm giving customers the opportunity to browse more than 1,800sq ft. of stock including furniture, silver, glassware, porcelain, pottery, jewellery and collectables.
Penny, who has worked in the antiques trade for nearly 50 years, said: “We’re very excited about opening the centre as we think this is exactly what Newbury needs. Newbury Emporium is much larger than it looks with three rooms which means there’s lots to see.”

Gary, known locally as “Lovejoy”, is a long-standing antique dealer and part-time auctioneer and has appeared on the BBC’s Antique Road Trip and Bargain Hunt programmes.
He added: “Antique hunting is a great weekend pastime and we guarantee that for whatever your budget you can find something exciting and different.”

Michael Forrer who sells general antiques, specialising in naval and scientific instruments said: “Our association with the Marlborough Antiques Centre has always been a happy one, so we’re looking forward to moving to Newbury.

“We will bring valuable and varied, old and new stock to satisfy the collecting preferences of past and future customers at bargain prices. We look forward to welcoming you.”

June Weller who is primarily a jewellery dealer added: “There is always something for everyone to enjoy, it has been a very successful centre in Marlborough so I am really positive that we can bring the same to Newbury.”
The Newbury Emporium will be officially opened on Sunday, 22nd May by television antique expert Stewart Hofgartner who runs Below Stairs antique shop in Hungerford. The event will be open to all and include a free valuation session from 12pm to 3pm with Stewart and also David Harrison from Jubilee Auction Rooms.
Ends

Friday, 26 February 2016

‘Why don’t zebras don’t get ulcers?


It’s not the punchline of a joke, but the subject of one of the forthcoming talks at the West Berkshire Athena network in March as Diksha Chakravarti of FiXme Ltd talks about stress and its management in our modern-day lives.

She will be the speaker at the Thatcham meeting on Tuesday, 15th March at the Regency Park Hotel. At the same meeting, Athena regional director Debbie Miles will be discussing ‘sales for non-sales people’.

Kate Talbot of Shore Financial Planning will be talking about financial planning at the new Newbury West group taking place on Thursday, 10th March at The Red House, Marsh Benham. Debbie Miles will be discussing the importance of getting to know your fellow networkers.



On Friday, 11th March, the Hungerford group meets at Audley Inglewood where Laura Cooper of Pink Spaghetti will be talking about useful apps to make your business life more efficient and Debbie Miles will be looking at how to link your networking to your business plan.

Finally, the Newbury Central group meetings on Wednesday, 16th March at Donnington Valley where Jane Zollo of Travel Counsellors will be talking about the different customer touch points and showing how good service and customer relationships lead to repeat business and referrals. Debbie will help group members hone their listening skills.

Debbie added: “We’re excited, as ever, about the wide range of topics on offer this month from stress management to financial and business planning right through to maximising your time. All of our speakers are Athena members too and offer subjects that are particularly practical for local businesswomen.”

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm and must be booked in advance

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

What exactly is PR?


We recently held a couple of informal workshops to help small business owners to get to grips with PR. Not unreasonably, on each occasion, someone would shyly put up their hand and ask: “what exactly IS PR?” or “What’s the difference between PR and marketing and advertising”.



I think these are good questions and that the terms are quite often used interchangeably and incorrectly. PR is a wide-ranging term referring to your reputation. Everything you do that reflects your business affects your PR. If you’re rude to a customer, if one of your delivery vans knocks a wing mirror off someone’s car, the standard of work you provide –it is all PR.

I would say that marketing is the overarching term to describe all of the ways in which you promote your business; leaflets, social media, advertising and t-shirts. Under this umbrella, I would also place PR.
However, the workshops we ran were about getting people editorial coverage in newspapers. You need to get your name into the publications that your customers are reading. I do this by seeking out great stories that journalists want to use and that means that you must write them in a very specific way so they don’t read like an advert.

Journalists are busy people who receive thousands of emails. You can help get your press release get to the top of the pile in certain ways and this is what we addressed in our workshops. We focused on helping a journalist by learning how to write a release that has everything needed for publication.

However, press releases aren’t the only way of getting your name out there and earning coverage. Here is a list of other options that you can consider:

1. Opinion piece
Could you write a piece about trends in your industry? For example, what are the five top apps? Who are the people to watch? Are you an estate agent who has something damning to say about stamp duty? Are you a nurse who wants to tell people what’s really happening in the NHS? Have a look at your industry titles plus national and local press for this to see if they run articles like this and if they do, how long they are and the format.


2. Quotes in features and news stories

Can you put a local spin on a national story? Are you an expert that journalists should come to when there’s a story on your subject? Make sure you are!


3. Case studies
Have you asked your customers if they would be happy to talk about the work you’ve done for them? For example, we recently worked on a story for an architect that featured a couple’s house after they’d expressed delight at her work. Conversely, could you act as a case study? We often write about small businesses that have been able to start trading or expand thanks to their bank. Could you work collaboratively and get coverage for yourself and a business that you work with?

5. As well as providing expert advice on your own blog or website, could you consider guest posting on another blog?

6. In the digital age, why not consider a podcast or a vodcast for people to listen to or watch on the move?

7. Advertorials

A lady recently came to one of my workshops unsure of where to start press release-wise. What didn’t become clear until a lot later in the session was that she had been offered an advertorial alongside an advert she’d placed! This is a fantastic way to get your message across; unlike a press release which could be changed by a journalist, with an advertorial, you’ll be able to say whatever you like and you’ll know the exact date it will appear.
8. Competitions

There’s a knack to doing these properly and a list of guidelines to follow, but could you offer a competition prize to get your name out there?


Monday, 1 February 2016

Tips for your radio interview!

While I tend to work closely with newspapers and magazines, radio interviews are a brilliant medium for small businesses to chat about what they offer. We recently helped a client get onto BBC Radio Oxford here talking about being an entrepreneur: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03fc8r7#play (from about 1.20)



While John is a natural and a seasoned speaker, it can be nerve racking, so here are some things to think about if you’re invited to speak on the radio either by phone or in the studio:

1. Turn off phones, the TV, the washing machine, the radio or anything else that creates background noise!

2. Prepare a glass of water just in case

3. Forget that you’re speaking to thousands (or even millions) and just talk to the interviewer. Think about The King’s Speech when Lionel Logue invites the King to “say it to me as a friend”.

4. Smile!

5. Although there may well be a webcam, don’t forget that people can’t see you. Don’t nod or just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Answer each question with a full sentence and explanation with examples without being asked.

6. Don’t speak in acronyms or slang.

7. Speak clearly, rounding the ends of words.

8. Make notes and have what you want to say at hand on a piece of paper.


Friday, 22 January 2016

Why the head chef needn't rule the roost


Certain celebrity chefs have built their careers and reputation around the way they rule the roost in the kitchen but do head chefs really have to be prima donnas to reach culinary perfection?

Award-winning food writer Romilla Arber doesn’t agree and has recently introduced a fresh way of thinking to her Honesty Group, of which the Crown and Garter in Inkpen is part. The team there believes that it’s vital to be upfront about where food has come from, what’s in it and how it’s cooked. Her ethos is a no-waste, ethically-sourced menu from local producers.

She also believes that the traditional hierarchies that are traditionally associated with chefs, stifle innovation and she prefers to encourage what she calls a “horizontal management structure” in the kitchen.

She said: “Many kitchens can play host to lots of screaming and shouting with the head chef having the last word. It is hard for some chefs to incorporate others’ opinions and people often wait for whoever is in charge. We decided to make the kitchen democratic, which means people can put forward their ideas and really be heard. The key is communication, communication, communication and people are encouraged to support each other,” she adds.

All of the kitchen staff meet every fortnight and they all have a voice in how to move forward, what ingredients and dishes are going to appear on the menu and are given the chance to experiment with flavours.

Chef and team member Dan Hellyer admits to a degree of trepidation when the new way of working was introduced.

“I was incredibly dubious at first!” says Dan. “In a lot of kitchens you just do what you’re told. The head chef decides what’s going on the menu and every last detail such as how it will be cooked, plated and presented. Even if that chef is away, it will be the same.

“However, anything is possible with the right attitude. It is a slightly unusual way of doing things, but there’s a safety net as you have different layers of people with varying levels of experience. Also, what’s the worst that could happen? You have something on the menu that no one orders, so you just change it!

“At our meetings, there are plenty of new menu suggestions. After all, no one thinks the same and everyone sees things on the plate differently and has different ideas about flavour. As part of our commitment to not wasting food, we use the whole animal and that’s meant that we’ve got some unusual things on the menu. We have included dishes that perhaps people in the country are more open to than people in the city, such as lamb faggots, chicken livers and pork scratchings.

“These are all our best-sellers, but are items that might not have been tried under a traditional management structure.”

Dan adds that the concept works because the team comprises the right mix of people. “We’re incredibly lucky to have a diligent conscientious team with great personalities.

“It relies on people taking the responsibility for certain areas,” says Romilla. “Everyone believes in in the system and engages with it. We are empowering people and putting them together with different strengths so they can learn from each other. It is incredibly good for people’s confidence.

“Every dish that goes on the menu is not created in isolation. It is the product of a number of skills and backgrounds. We believe in fairness for our customers and staff and we want them both to be valued. You won’t find anyone else doing the things we are doing.”

The Crown and Garter was voted Best Newcomer for the South East and London in the Great British Pub Awards 2015 and shortlisted for Food and Travel Magazine’s Readers’ Awards 2015.

For more information please visit www.crownandgarter.co.uk or www.honestygroup.co.uk

ends









Thursday, 21 January 2016

TRADEMARK TRIBE RECOMMENDS A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR YOUR BUSINESS


By now, many New Year’s resolutions have been broken, but there’s an important one that you can make for your business.
Many small business owners think they don’t have the time or money to protect their business name and logo with a trademark. Others think that if the company bears their own surname, it belongs to them and can’t be taken away.
Dale Campbell is a European Trademark Attorney and founder of Trademark Tribe, based in Newbury. In 2015 alone, she helped many West Berkshire businesses to protect their name and branding against other firms trying to trade with the same name.
On the other side of the coin, when Dale registers a trademark for a company, she is then able to ensure that other businesses are unable to use the same name.
She said: “Most people know that they should trademark their business name but do not see this as a priority in the early days of development. Sadly, after investing time and money in their business, it’s possible that they could be hit with a trademark dispute which can involve expensive and long-winded legal wrangling. The outcome can often mean literally losing the company’s valuable name and I’ve seen many firms have to start again from scratch.
“Owners are astonished to find that proving they existed as a company before the challenger does not help. The decision goes to the person who has registered the name. So it is entirely possible for a competitor to take a fancy to your company name and check online whether it is registered. If not, in no time at all, they can be using your cherished title. Apart from the devastating effect on business this can have a deep emotional impact. One of the early joys of entrepreneurism is the creation of an identity which reflects your personal values as well as your business ethic. To register this immediately provides security and peace of mind. You may then focus your energies on building the business rather than looking over your shoulder.”
The process of registering is surprisingly smooth and inexpensive, especially when compared to the possible costs of failing to do so. Dale can advise on whether a name qualifies as a trademark, as not all names do. They will also check that your chosen name has not already been registered which again saves many headaches later. Trademark Tribe can also advise on how to choose a strong memorable brand name.
This could be your best ever New Year resolution and once done you will have no trouble keeping it. And your valuable name. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The numbers add up for.....

This must be some sort of record! I issued this press release at 10.08pm last night and it had appeared on the website by 10.30pm. Hurray!

www.otsnews.co.uk/numbers-add-up-for-southports-stubbs-parkin-with-a-new-base-thanks-to-nattwest/

Friday, 8 January 2016

Thursday, 7 January 2016

How to annoy a journalist

“And I sent a press release to the newspaper but they didn’t use it”….if I had a pound every time I heard this phrase…

The problem is this….the newspaper is under no obligation to use your release. The paper isn’t there to promote your business. Can you imagine what the newspapers would look like if they simply printed all the press releases they received, word for word?

Put yourself in the shoes of the journalist on the receiving end of your release. The key to getting them to use your press release is to offer them something that gives reader value. Papers want stories that are useful, that reflect what the community is talking about, things that are controversial. Think about what you would like to read in the paper, or conversely, what you don’t want to read.
Here are some more sure-fire ways of annoying a journalist:

1. Sending a release that requires the journalist to spend valuable time going through it changing it.

You wouldn’t believe the number of people who send releases in capital letters, or use exclamation marks excessively. People love to cap up their job titles only for the reporter to have to spend time changing it back to lower case. While “Operational Director of Corporate Internal Widgets Department” sounds great, it is often meaningless to everyone else. Pick up your nearest newspaper and have a look. You’ll see that even ‘prime minister’ remains in lower case.


2. Sending a release that sounds like an advert.

Don’t use words such as “unique”, “world-leading”, “exciting” or “FREE!”

3. Sending a release full of industry jargon and acronyms.

You might be comfortable with these, but other people are unlikely to be experts in the same field as you and will have to look all of these up. Keep things simple and readable – explain each acronym the first time you refer to it.

4. Not sending a photo or sending a bad one.

A photo enhances your press release and even if it doesn’t get used, it will draw an editor’s eye to your story. Make sure your photos are in focus, are relevant and are high quality.

5. Sending the same press release to 100 different journalists.
In the days when I was on the receiving end of press releases, I would simply delete any where my name was one among lots, particularly when these included our rival publications! Journalists want exclusivity, not to print the same things as everyone else.

6. Phoning on deadline

Know when the paper comes out and what the deadlines are. Or simply ask if it’s a convenient moment when you call.

7. Phoning without introducing yourself and saying “did you receive my press release”

Remember journalists can receive hundreds if not thousands of emails. They are unlikely to remember your press release.

8. Moaning that your competitors have been in the paper
Phoning a journalist and saying things like: “you NEED to include this” or “you need to do some PR for us” or “you never write about us”. Yes, people actually do this….

9. Leaving out contact information:

Include your name and mobile number so that the journalist can contact you if they need to follow up. Needless to say, many people forget to do this.

10. Cancelling interviews
I have worked with a couple of clients who have asked me to write a press release about them. We’ve sold the story in and a journalist has shown interest and asked for an interview; the client has then cancelled – sometimes without explanation. Journalists are highly unlikely to use your stories again if you let them down in this way.

11. And the last one. When a journalist has covered your story, instead of encouraging people to buy the paper, you simply put a photo of the piece up on social media. Sometimes this is accompanied by a rant about how they got a minor detail wrong and a line such as “typical newspapers”!


Good luck!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Tips on staying motivated in the Indy - happy new year!

www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/new-years-resolutions-9-ways-to-stick-to-your-exercise-regime-a6794561.html

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Friday, 1 January 2016

Thanks to Prima for using this



Kitchen Table Talent indeed - such a pleasure to work with the awesome MrsB!



Happy New Year!