Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mark Thomas - 100 minor acts of dissent at Newbury 12th July

I love Mark Thomas. And it seems that it’s a mutual thing as he appears to love Newbury too. Why else would he have chosen the dusty setting (as he discovered when he banged a chair seat for emphasis only to be covered in a cloud of dirt) of New Greenham Arts as the setting for his new show 100 Minor Acts of Dissent?

The show is, much like Thomas himself, driven by acts of bedevilment. From May 2013 to May 2014, he intends to complete 100 minor acts of dissent; simple things that drive progress forward and make the UK a better place to live. As we were among the first crowds to see it, it did mean that he'd only completed a handful. Probably worth seeing the show again later in the project.

The show was created after Mark's father, the subject of the touching, but still hilarious Bravo Figaro, died. Combined with turning 50, Mark flexed his mayhem muscle by challenging himself to photograph a different police officer every day for a year. Without their permission. This created some laughter, some threats and some face-covering.

The results prompted him to come up with 100 minor acts of dissent. Number one was a service called “We will drive them to the airport”. Who has screwed the economy up more than bankers? And who asked them to?

To answer this problem, Mark Thomas has responded to the bankers’ frequent moans of “if you don’t let us have our bonuses, then we’ll leave!” with this – wewilldrivethemtotheairport.co.uk

a website where you can sign up to volunteer to drive the bankers to the airport.

Other projects include “Pornershop” which is aimed at stopping porn from being sold in cornershops. To do this, he has been buying porn, opening it, exchanging the odd pornstar’s face with that of Margaret Thatcher and carefully placing it back on the shelf. What a shame we’re unlikely to hear how that went by the end user!

How about tax evasion? As Apple pay their tax in Ireland, Mark decided to invite an Irish band to the Apple store to serenade shoppers with some traditional Irish music, while changing all of the iPad screens to show the tax authority’s webpage.

The last one involves two of my favourite things: stickers and books. I have filled my handbag with "bastard trade" stickers depict a banker hitting an African child in the face; the idea is you put them on items such as certain chocolate brands etc that are the direct opposite of the Fairtrade ethic. More fun can be had with the other stickers which are aimed at the big book chains.

I can't recommend this show highly enough - it's your public duty to attend, to laugh and to indulge in taking part in a couple of acts of minor dissent.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Debbie Miles from the Athena Network, West Berkshire, offers 10 tips for successful networking

When you’re starting or building a business, people will often recommend networking events for attracting new clients.

While this is an ever-popular and effective way of gaining referrals, getting started can be daunting for some people.

Debbie Miles from the Athena Network, West Berkshire runs monthly networking lunches for women in Hungerford, Newbury north, Newbury south and Thatcham so is well placed to advise people on how to get the most from their networking.

Here are her top ten tips:

1. Decide what kind of networking works for you; early mornings? Lunchtimes? After work? Do you want to go weekly or monthly? If you have young children you may want to avoid breakfast meetings which can start as early as 6.30am!

2. See if you can work out who is coming before the meeting so you can target the people who you want to meet. Get there early so you can meet people as they come into the room.

3. Practise summarising what you do in one sentence. Debbie loves to cite the florist who says I make people happy or the photographer who says “I shoot people for a living”.

4. Bring plenty of business cards and make sure they’re good quality and say exactly what you do.

5. Be memorable. Offer to help chair meetings or to give a talk on your specialist subject so people remember you.

6. Bring props to meetings to demonstrate your work – perhaps you’re a designer who could bring some examples of logos you’ve designed? Or an interior designer who could bring photos of finished houses?

7. Follow up individually. You can get to know people in more depth by meeting later in the week for a coffee. The Athena Network recommends meeting people for a “one-to-one” and there are even prizes for the most prolific networkers! Be sure to follow up as the other person may forget, but don’t just add people’s email addresses to your mailing list.

8. Be sure to refer and thank anyone who has done a good job for you.

9. Don’t just think of attracting clients – there may be other people in the room who you could work with who will bring a whole package to a customer. Perhaps you’re a beautician who could refer work to a hairdresser? Or an architect who needs a solicitor to call on?

10. You’ll go home with lots of business cards so it’s worth inputting them into a spreadsheet when you get home.

Debbie adds: “Networking can take time out of your working day, so it really is worth doing a little preparation ahead of the session to ensure that you’re really doing it effectively. At the Athena Network, as well as networking for gaining new clients, our aims are to educate, support each other and to build alliances.

“We have four groups of inspirational women who all gain enormously from each other’s support but we’re always looking for new members and guests to keep things fresh.”

For more information contact Debbie via www.theathenanetwork.co.uk

Thursday, 25 July 2013

A word on the difference between an advert and a press release

You would be astonished how many times people call me to ask where their advert is going or why a newspaper has changed/cut their copy.

An advert is paid-for. You contact the paper, tell them what you want to say and pay them to print it exactly as you wish.

A press release is a story that you submit to the paper in the hope they will run it for free. The pay off, of course, is that while this will be free if they cover it, you can’t guarantee if they will use it, let alone where or when.

Not confusing the two will make life easier. Much like the advice a weary flight attendant gave me to help me tell the difference between the "call attendant" button and the light bulb one.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Come and join the success revolution at Bigger Brighter Bolder!

Newbury motivational and performance coaching firm Bigger Brighter Bolder is holding three information sessions for West Berkshire business people to find out more about their popular Success Groups.

The briefings take place at Benham Hill, Thatcham on Wednesday 17th July from 9.30am to 12pm; Thursday 18th July from 7pm to 9.30pm and Wednesday 31st July 9.30am to 12pm.

Each briefing will give an insight into the power of collaborating with like-minded people before interested participants are invited to try out BBB’s Success Foundation Programme which is a two-month long trial of Success Groups.
Success Groups have been running for just over a year and much like a weight loss club, enable people to meet regularly and set goals.

Members then support each other and assess the success of their goal setting. In the past year, some of the achievements include: doubling turnover, publishing a book and competing at national level in sport.

George Swift, director of BBB said: "Whether you’re interested in achieving financial, business or personal results, being accountable to your peers during the workshops is an extremely powerful way of making sure you stick to your goals.

“Our members meet twice-monthly so that BBB can deliver mindset mentoring workshops and the members can spur each other on. The groups have seen members re-evaluate their business and life goals and some have even changed career. Although finance isn’t the only measure of success, one member has quadrupled her income, and others are publishing books or setting up their own businesses.”

Fellow director Tracey Miller added: “BBB Success Groups are for you when you want success and you want to be around other people that are happy to support you and celebrate with you.”

Current member Carolyne Wahlen from Goring, who runs Gap HR Services, has found the group to be invaluable. She said: “Success Groups have helped me put the foundations in place to grow. Since then, I’ve doubled the number of clients I serve, quadrupled income and am working fewer hours. The business has grown and I’ve taken on an employee.

“I absolutely recommend Success Groups which get better and better every time I attend; I’ve managed to overcome long-held beliefs that were holding me back and have really defined what is important to me. All of the people there have supported each other and given feedback in a non-critical way.”

Meanwhile, musician Liisa Henriksson, from Newbury, has battled a huge fear of rejection that was holding her back and has been unstoppable since she started attending Success Groups.

In the past 12 months, Liisa has released and marketed a product, completed and edited her first academic book and had the courage to send it to professors for endorsement, and started playing live music again.

She said: “I can honestly say BBB Success Group has changed my life. I am free to take a more serious attitude towards my musicianship. I set goals and actually achieve them rather than always expecting perfection and getting frustrated.”

The groups meet twice a month, but prospective members are invited to try a two-month foundation course before committing. For more details or took book a space at a briefing email briefing@biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Buttermilk Confections raises £153 for the Cornwall Air Ambulance

Award-winning fudge manufacturer Buttermilk Confections raised £153 for the Cornwall Air Ambulance after carrying out a prize draw in their Port Isaac shop to win fudge and Doc Martin goodies.

The winner, Petra Marshall from Long Eaton, was touring around Cornwall on holiday but fortunately was contacted by the Buttermilk Confections shop in Port Isaac and claimed her prize within the hour.

Her winning ticket was selected by youngster Isaac Lucas.

Michael Meakins, a Doc Martin 'extra' and organiser of the event at the Buttermilk Shop, handed over the cheque to Julie Thompson from the Air Ambulance base at the Newquay headquarters this week. The fundraiser at the shop which doubles as the Doc's Pharmacy in the popular ITV series was scheduled to take place to coincide with a Doc Martin event in the US on the same day planned by a Washington State-based fan. However, a flood at the tearooms where the event was due to take place in Vancouver, US, meant it has been cancelled until later this year.


Love the style and versatility of the Clio but looking for something more spacious with a higher riding position? Then you’ll be pleased to hear that Mitchells Renault in Lowestoft is now offering the Captur -Renault’s head-turning new urban crossover.
The Captur is a high-riding big brother to Renault’s best-selling Clio, blending hatchback, MPV and crossover characteristics into a versatile package aimed at families.

Renault is renowned for safety and the Captur has received the marque’s 15th five-star Euro NCAP rating. It feels safe too as it rides higher than the Clio hatch and is more family-friendly thanks to its bigger boot with variable floor and sliding, split-fold rear bench.

As well as being safe, it looks great too thanks to its flowing lines, large wheels, swept-back headlights, generous ground clearance and steeply-raked windscreen.

Perfect for families as well as busy people who like to carry a lot of leisure kit, the Renault Captur is roomy and practical. With one of the largest boots in the class, it has a sliding rear bench seat and a maximum load space of 455 litres.
Driving pleasure is a huge focus for the Captur and drivers will love the raised driving position, which is 100mm higher than the Clio, as well as the highly-interactive in-dash Renault R-Link multimedia tablet which provides access to a whole new level of connectivity, with plenty of dedicated motoring apps.

It doesn’t disappoint at the pumps either – the Energy dCi 90 uses just 76.4 mpg and emits just 95g of CO2 per km, which are record low figures for Captur’s class.

The Captur starts from just £12,495 on-the-road and that includes an impressive range of core equipment in all four trim levels; Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav.

The Expression includes 16” alloy wheels, 60/40 split and sliding rear seat bench, body coloured bumpers, cruise control, ECO mode, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), ETC (Electronic Traction Control), front and rear electric windows, HSA (Hill Start Assist), speed limiter and trip computer.

Next, the Expression+ includes all of that plus front fog lights, body coloured door mirrors and handles and hands-free key card. It also features auto lights and wipers, as well as climate control.

Predicted to be the UK best-seller, Dynamique MediaNav, brings in the world of personalisation as well as the zipped seat covers which can be simply wiped or washed.

Its personalisation comes in the form of a chrome colour pack giving sporty good looks, plus centre console, air vent and gearlever surrounds. It also includes “MediaNav”, the integrated multimedia tablet with seven-inch touchscreen, including Navteq Nav ‘n’ Go satellite navigation, 4x20W Arkamys radio, Bluetooth, USB and handsfree technology.

The top-of-the-range Dynamique S MediaNav contains plenty of premium touches such as electric folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors (City Pack). It also adds heated front seats and an attractive contrasting roof.

Matthew Huke-Jenner, managing director of Mitchells Renault said: “The Clio is tremendously popular here in Suffolk and beyond so the Captur should also inspire similar loyalty as it combines the best of three worlds; the MPV, SUV and family hatchback. Here at Mitchells, we are very excited by Captur which is one of the most stylish, versatile, frugal and keenly-priced additions to the supermini crossover market yet.”

For more information, click onto www.mitchellsrenault.co.uk or visit the dealership on Long Road, Lowestoft (01502 500950).