Monday, 20 February 2017

County Knowledge

If you're new to the area, be sure to check out for trusted recommendations on everything from schools to gyms to tradesmen!

Thank you also for the nice words!

Thursday, 16 February 2017


The last few tables are still up for grabs at West Berkshire Mencap’s annual Charity Race Day at Newbury Racecourse on Friday, 3rd March.

The highly-anticipated event is the charity’s biggest fundraising event of the year and helps raise much-needed funds for people with learning disabilities.

Tables are selling fast, but organisers are urging local individuals, organisations and businesses to secure the remaining seats with the promise of a full day of racing plus a three-course lunch and afternoon tea.

The day includes a champagne reception and a gourmet three-course lunch and wine. There is also the chance to bid for experiences in a silent auction with lots including a fantastic meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant The Harrow in Little Bedwyn with luxury transport there and back.

West Berkshire Mencap CEO Leila Ferguson said: “You don’t have to love horseracing to have a fantastic day with us. We can accept bookings of one to ten people and all money raised will be used to support services for children and adults with learning disabilities. “More than 250 places have already been snapped up and the event is supported by more than 20 twenty local and national businesses. It represents an excellent opportunity to network or as corporate entertainment for your team. Simply by attending or donating a prize to our raffle, you will be helping to raise money for children and adults with learning disabilities in your local area.” To donate a prize, book your place or to find out more information, pleae call us on 01635 41464 or e-mail

Please contact the charity on 01635 41464 or email to book or if you

Monday, 13 February 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Watch out! There’s an outbreak of pink and red today that mainly seems to be affecting women! I’m not a big fan of the whole gushy romance thing, but it is a good opportunity to declare my love for getting people into the papers. Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. My clients: most people I work with are inspirational, enthusiastic and are doing great, forward-thinking things. I am lucky enough to work with charities and business owners who have a great deal to offer. It’s such an honour to hear these things early on and to work with people to find the best way of telling their story. Sometimes, a little brainstorming together can help clients really visualise new ways of achieving their goals. If by some quirk, people don’t have a newsworthy story to tell from within the business, we can either make something happen or we can find a different way of promoting their offering.

2. I am lucky enough to help people who need each penny of their marketing spend to work hard. It’s so exciting to get them great value for money and to spread the word in a cost-effective way.

3. I've always been much better at writing than talking so being allowed to spend time listening to people and then selecting the best way of writing this down is a great job for me!

4. PR role models. People always think you’re either Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It, or Samantha from Sex and the City. (I will leave you to decide which one I am!)

5. Meeting celebrities or inspirational thought leaders.

6. Being inspired in the middle of the night. Do you have a pen and paper next to your bed? Also, what did I mean when I wrote down "celebrity caravans" at 4am this morning?

7. Writing about anything and everything. Today it’s printers, billboards and chocolate; yesterday it was electric cars, charities and horse racing.

8. While they might not be the world’s most exotic locations, my job has enabled me to visit places I wouldn’t have visited. Last week, Turin. This week, Slough and Birmingham.

9. We PR-types have an excuse to read magazines and newspapers at work! When I sit with a cup of tea and a glossy magazine, I am looking for coverage, gaining ideas, assessing the news situation or making plans – even though it might not look like it. There’s something so exciting about seeing something that you’ve written in print. Sometimes I’m more excited than my client!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Leading “free from” chocolate manufacturer Moo Free launches Easter egg range for 2017

It wasn’t long ago that people with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance had to go without chocolate eggs at Easter.

All that has changed now and there are delicious dairy-free and gluten-free alternatives widely available.

The market leader Moo Free has unveiled its line-up of Easter eggs for 2017 and there are three varieties available: Original, Orange and Bunnycomb all made with its award-winning chocolate.

All three Easter eggs have the same RRP as last year (£4.25), but the Easter Bunny has now delivered another 20g of chocolate buttons. They now all weigh 120g (up from 100g in 2016) without a price increase.

They will be available via supermarkets, larger retailers, independent high-street stores, and online retailers including

Mike Jessop, who founded Moo Free in 2010, along with his wife Andrea, said: “Moo Free replaces cows’ milk with rice milk to create a delicious, milk chocolate taste that doesn’t require a single cow.”

The chocolate from which the eggs and the buttons are made is a multi-award winning recipe, having most recently won the award for ‘Best Vegan Chocolate’ at the VegFest Awards, 2016. This accolade was voted for by the public.

Even better still, its award-winning dairy free chocolates are also free from gluten, wheat, lactose, soya and casein, completely vegetarian and vegan, and certified organic.

“Because we care about you and the environment, all our dairy free chocolates are made using organic and ethically sourced ingredients wrapped up in fun, environmentally-friendly packaging. Moo Free’s Easter eggs, unlike those of their rivals, deliver great taste and even better value,” added Mike.

Take a look at Moo Free’s website to find out more –


To request a press or blog sample, tweet @margaretmcdpr

Monday, 6 February 2017

Children's bereavement charity Daisy’s Dream receives a donation of £3,349 from West Berkshire Crematorium.

Daisy’s Dream, a local charity that helps children who have been bereaved, has received a donation of £3,349 from West Berkshire Crematorium.

The crematorium, located just outside Thatcham, donated £3.071.52 from their recycled metals scheme plus a further £277.86 raised at the retiring collection at the Memorial Carol Service held in December.

West Berkshire Crematorium technician and chapel attendant, Mickey Maudsley, said: “When we get the opportunity to raise money, we always try to choose smaller, local charities that benefit the local community. We decided to support Daisy’s Dream who offer an important service to children across the whole of Berkshire that have been bereaved.”

Brandon Herselman, manager and registrar at the crematorium added: “It has been a pleasure to have supported Daisy’s Dream which helps families at such a difficult time. Demand for the charity’s services is increasing, so we’re delighted to announce that we have chosen Daisy’s Dream again as our charity for the year.”

Daisy’s Dream fundraiser Gemma Gittins, said: “We are so grateful to staff at the crematorium, plus everyone who donated. This fantastic sum will enable us to offer our professional support services to children and families affected by life threatening illness or bereavement.

“We hope to use this donation to offer one-to-one support as well as a number of therapeutic group events which give children the chance to meet with others facing similar circumstances.”

Monday, 30 January 2017

How to make everyone happy when you're interviewed by a journalist

I was listening to Clive Anderson interviewing Mark Thomas and Ken Hom on Radio 4 at the weekend. It didn’t occur to me until later but I then realised that I have interviewed both (in 2011 and 2004 respectively and that they are both in my top ten interviewees.

Despite being completely different, they shared some characteristics that made them easy to interview and meant that we were able to write a positive piece promoting a show and a new restaurant and book (guess which one is which). It’s not difficult, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to get wrong. I was a regional journalist and can count hundreds of times that people made life a little more difficult when they needn’t have done, leading to an interview and subsequent write-up that possibly didn’t portray them in the best light. We are all busy people, but just employ some basic common sense and everyone gains –whether you’re in bands (I won’t name and shame!) to businesspeople and councillors and politicians.

Here are some things to think about if a journalist wants to talk to you about your business:

1. Answer the phone – particularly when you’ve agreed that a journalist can call you at a set time

I once battled for weeks to get a local business in the paper based on a time-sensitive hook – possibly International Women’s Day. The journalist agreed to call her at 3pm but got no reply. I left a message reminding her that deadline was fast approaching and she texted me to tell me not to interrupt as she was in the cinema. If you do want press coverage, then do all you can to help. Journalists don't have time to keep chasing you if you don't appear enthusiastic.

2. Be helpful

On that note, try to give as much information as you can. Don’t answer “yes” or “no” and leave it at that. Try to expand and give interesting information that brings the piece alive. Also, ensure that you don't waste time talking nonsense, and that you are able to get all of your points across. I vividly remember once receiving a press release in very dense, technical jargon from a leisure manufacturer. Most people would have hit the delete button instantly, but I thought it might be interesting and called the person who’d sent it. They shot a barrage of abuse at my stupidity at not knowing what kind of plastic he was referring to. This was in 2002, but it still rankles now! On other occasions, a managing director wanted us to write about his company, but wouldn’t reveal his first name. “Mr is adequate”, he said. Er. It isn't. Other people have got shirty when asked their age, or if they have children – even which town they live in. All of these things add colour to the piece. The more relevant information you can give, the better. And if you don’t want to give your age, just decline politely rather than snarling “what’s that got to do with anything?”

3. “Send me a copy”

A journalist generally won’t know when it’s going in, or even if it IS definitely going to be printed, so don’t get annoyed if they can’t give an exact date. Buy the paper and when it goes in, encourage others to do so rather than simply sticking a photo of the finished article on social media.

4. Say thank you.

And not (and these are all real):

-"Why is it in black and white?"
-"I didn't like the fact that it was next to a story about xxx"
-"It's all wrong. Typical journalist!" (It wasn't all wrong - I'd asked her which town she was from and reviewing my notes, it seems she'd misunderstood the question".

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Tamsin Machin from County Knowledge is a lady in the know! She can help you sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to finding excellent local businesses. Here's a piece we wrote together which you can find in this month's Berkshire Life magazine....