Thursday, 23 October 2014

What's the future of texting? The GM of business text provider TextAnywhere looks to the future....

With the development of new apps and the increasing use of smartphones, you might think that business text providers TextAnywhere would be widening their range of services beyond SMS.

Not so, says the firm’s general manager Adrian Harris, who has positioned the firm to capitalise on the huge potential that text messaging still offers businesses and organisations such as the NHS and businesses.

TextAnywhere Ltd is a UK company, set up in 2003, with a mission to deliver high quality, trusted text message business solutions via UK-only Carriers. During its ten year celebrations last year, it was acquired by SRCL and is now part of the ERS Medical Group. SRCL are the European arm of Stericycle Inc - giants in the American healthcare industry.

TextAnywhere offers volume text-messaging services to the corporate and public sector communities including the NHS and a variety of commercial and business names.

The UK’s appetite for texting is not waning, and 2011 was the first year that saw the number of text messages sent overtake the number of phone calls made. An Informa industry report predicts that the number of texts in 2016 will reach 9.4 trillion messages – up from 6.4 trillion in 2012.

That of course means massive potential for businesses too and that’s where TextAnywhere believes there is yet more. SMS is the most popular form of communication in the UK and the average phone user looks at their phone 150 times a day.

TextAnywhere has developed its own niche and is widely known for the quality of its customer service. Unusually, the team of just 24 staff serve businesses ranging from giants (such as Weight Watchers) to smaller business users, who use the platform to send messages to their customer communities, marketing managing appointments/maintenance and repairs, collections deliveries and much more.

Since the acquisition last year, TextAnywhere has seen a 35% year-on-year growth in turnover while its team of staff and management has broadly remained the same. It was then that Adrian, who had previously worked as a Business Development Director took full responsibility as General Manager. With 30 years of experience in IT sales and management, he is well-placed to predict the future of SMS and the business.

Adrian said: “The year since acquisition has been great for us. Though our parent is huge and we report to them, we have remained independent to manage our business. TextAnywhere is based on an extremely sound technical platform and our ethos is that of good service and sustainable steady growth within the corporate sector as well as expanding into the healthcare market. We make considered decisions, focus on delivery and we are resilient.”

Adrian added: “Our team are happy and doing the day-to-day job while maintaining a vision of what the future should look like and a respect for the past. Over the past year, our approach to business has taken a more proactive stance - historically we haven’t been particularly proactive from a sales perspective as we’ve focused more on the infrastructure, customer support and service.

“This year, we’ve made the decision to be more proactive with regards to our current customers whilst continuing to chase new opportunities. What we’ve done is to become more sales focused. We now spend more time visiting our customers and talking through what we offer to ensure it meets their requirements. What’s interesting is that by visiting our clients, we often get to see other departments within the business and are able to develop those areas on the strength of our relationships. We’ve never really evangelized these relationships before.

He added: “It’s been a hugely successful year with almost the same resources; the same marketing, development and sales. Despite being acquired, we’re still an independent business although there’s more of a focus on healthcare.”

The NHS Friends and Family test (which measures NHS services based on whether patients would recommend hospital wards, A&E departments and maternity services to their friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment) uses TextAnywhere’s TextSurvey product and Adrian believes the key to this is that many people, still use old devices, making SMS messaging a better platform for seeking feedback than IP technology. SMS will service older devices as well as new smartphones and is a bridge across the mobile community.

Additionally, with the integration of health and social care that is currently being seen, text messaging provides an essential link for people who are being treated in their homes. Many people with long-term conditions such as diabetes and pulmonary diseases can send their daily readings and data to their clinicians without the need for taking up surgery time, and also have the opportunity to receive reminders for their medication renewals or clinic appointment times

Adrian added: “Using text messages for such sectors is still an expanding market and market analysis suggests it will be for at least five more years. As well as healthcare, we’ve also had huge success with our ‘TextSurvey’ product in the commercial environment. Looking at the market closely, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world has gone survey mad and our product has been extremely well-received with a second version recently having been released.”

Adrian added: “We run the operation very sensibly and we don't put huge expectations of growth upon ourselves, our decisions are considered and our ethos is open forum throughout the business. Investment is always from banked money and not loans or debt. We are competitive but we are not the cheapest, our high standards rely upon the usage of in-country carriers and very high delivery success.”

“We also differ in that we are extremely eco conscious. Although our head office is based in Leeds, TextAnywhere staff are all home-based. We are also an accredited carbon neutral organisation, and we offset our carbon emissions by investing in global projects in areas such as renewable energy, resource conservation, waste reduction, and forestry projects. Through our Foundation, TextAnywhere and ERS Medical staff choose two charities each year that share 1% of our net profit. This year it’s Sam Beare Hospice and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Plus we donate 1% of our products and services, and 1% of our team's time to not-for-profit organisations.”

With 27.9m mobile users opted in to receive business communications, with this figure rising to 35.3m in 2015, TextAnywhere is looking to the future and is ready to deliver its message.


Emma Moscow - How to get ahead with a hat

Just found another cutting based on the Emma Moscow press release we issued in the summer! The first went into Out and About - this one in luxury magazine Compellier.

Tonic Health Boutique’s 10 tips to improve your chances of conception the natural way #nationalinfertilityweek

With National Infertility Week taking place from 27th Oct to 2nd November, this release that I wrote with Tonic Health Boutique seems timely and could be useful for anyone trying to conceive.

"Tonic Health Boutique’s 10 tips to improve your chances of conception the natural way"

A quarter of couples have problems conceiving, 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage and on average it takes three years for women to get pregnant.
These stark statistics sound rather depressing but there are simple steps you and your partner can take to increase your chances of having a baby.
Our increasingly hectic lifestyles, poor diet, lack of exercise, long hours and stressful jobs are taking their toll on our ability to conceive. Alcohol and caffeine consumption and our exposure to toxins in our modern environment are also hampering our ability to fall pregnant.
But help is at hand. Anneliese Setchell, fertility specialist and nutritionist says even changing your lifestyle a little can really improve fertility rates. After all, healthy parents are more likely to bring a healthy baby into the world. Even just doing something relaxing each day can boost your fertility.”

Anneliese’s top ten recommendations:

1. Stop taking the contraceptive pill about three to six months before you start trying to conceive. Also, have more sex! Ideally you should have sex every two to three days as if a man abstains for three days or more, a high proportion of the sperm will be dead or abnormal.

2. Maintain blood sugar level to keep hormones in order. This means ensuring that you eat a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. This ideally includes 50g of protein a day from items such as quinoa, lean poultry, organic meat, fish, eggs, lentils, pulses, organic dairy, nuts and seeds, and sprouts. Fats should come from sources such as nuts, avocado and oily fish while your diet should be based on a wide variety of complex carbohydrates. Anneliese also recommends drinking a pint of warm water first thing in the morning.

3. Avoid toxins in the home or at work. As well as occupational hazards, such as for nail bar workers, chemicals lurk around the home in the form of processed foods, cleaning products and cosmetics. Anneliese recommends avoiding deodorants and tin foil, food packaged in plastic, using greaseproof paper instead of film and using natural cleaning products. She also suggests using mobile phones and microwaves less as these give out electromagnetic signals. Occupational hazards to avoid if possible, include heat for firemen or bakers, low sperm count for drivers and high pesticide exposure for farmers, as well as solvents for hairdressers and decorators.

4. Ensure you’re as relaxed and stress-free as possible as this has a huge impact on fertility, hormones and libido. Aim to have eight hours’ sleep a night.

5. Give up smoking! According to research, smoking is responsible for impotence in 120,000 men across the UK. The good news is that once you’ve given up smoking, within a year, your chances of conception are the same as that of a non-smoker.

6. Likewise, women should drink no more than five units of alcohol a week (seven for men) but ideally it should be cut out altogether, particularly around ovulation.

7. Schedule exercise of at least 30 minutes a day. As well as improving blood flow, hormonal output and nutrition, it also helps the health of your ovaries.

8. Anneliese recommends getting to your ideal weight and cleansing the body of toxins if appropriate.

9. It’s worth taking supplements even before pregnancy such as folic acid, probiotics and antioxidants to support health of ovaries and sperm. She also recommends multivitamins to include B2, B6 and B12.

10. Are there any underlying infections that could hamper your ability to conceive?

She adds: “No one has all the answers, but the logic of creating a healthy body that can sustain a healthy pregnancy goes a long way. If you both eat well and nourish your eggs and sperm, you dramatically improve your chances of conceiving. Good luck!”




Many thanks for the Reading Post for using this story and for Jennifer for coming forward to warn people about their eyesight. Her story is a wake-up call about the prevalence of diabetes.


“Take 30 minutes every year to turn up for your annual retinal scan and it could save your sight” is the message from Reading’s Diabetes UK chairwoman to people with diabetes.

Jennifer Ackroyd, aged 68, from Woodley, is issuing the plea as she undergoes surgery to save the sight in her right eye. With dwindling sight in her left eye too, she is keen to ensure that people understand that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness.

She said: “If I can help save one person’s sight, it’s worth it.”

Diabetic retinopathy is a sight-threatening long-term complication of diabetes. Raised glucose levels can have an impact on the small blood vessels in the retina and this can threaten sight. If these are picked up early enough by the screening programme, then treatment can be effective, but diabetic retinopathy may not affect the sight until the changes are quite advanced.

Originally from Cheshire, the retired consumer development executive at Yell has had diabetes since she was 42. She has an unusual type of diabetes which was brought on owing to the shock of her father’s sudden death.

“At first, it was a total nightmare,” she said. “I remember that the first thing my mother brought me in hospital was a bag of sherbet lemons that the nurse said I wouldn’t be able to eat. I then had to have insulin at 7am and 7pm and then had to learn a kind of portion control.

“Then, a few days after my 50th birthday, I had a severe stroke which put me in hospital. However, during that time, I met a nurse called Jo Head who changed my life. She was the first specialist diabetic nurse I met, and she taught me how to control my diabetes, taught me how to use a glucometer [a machine that helps measure the correct dose of insulin] properly and put me in touch with a specialist diabetic doctor.”

However, Jennifer, who was widowed earlier this year, is still passionate about the work of Diabetes UK and regularly lobbies Westminster. The Reading group meets five times a year, supporting people who have recently been diagnosed, and people who have had the condition for years.

She added: “It’s the fastest-growing medical condition in the UK and something must be done about it. It’s the modern-day lifestyle that has led to the explosion in diabetes. Most people eat fast food and are feeding their children the same; pizzas, burgers, takeaways.

“When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, there’s a lot to take in so the message about taking care of your eyes and feet can get lost. It’s vitally important to have your retinal screening. I missed some appointments and had I kept earlier appointments, I might have saved my sight.

“There’s a mobile clinic that comes to your surgery and they put drops in your eyes. The specialist machine takes picture and notes the changes. It only takes about 30 minutes and it’s not uncomfortable. If it saves people’s sight, then we should do it.

“It’s heart-breaking for people who know me to watch me lose my sight and I know there are things I could have done to have prevented it. The recently-formed Diabetes Sans Frontières project definitely helped. Prior to that, I didn’t realise there was so much help available or that there were so many people are involved in my care.”

Stephanie Holland, Programme Manager for the Berkshire Diabetic Eye Screening Programme added: “Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication but if it’s diagnosed and treated early enough then severe loss of vision can be prevented in 90 per cent of cases. We run a screening programme and encourage everyone with diabetes over the age of 12 years to have a retinal examination using digital photography once a year. To book your appointment call 0118 936 8610.”


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tales from Ben Nevis for business

Climbing Ben Nevis, despite being an asthma sufferer, has surprising lessons that can also be used in business and will be one of the topics for discussion at the Athena Network this month.

West Berkshire accountant Sue Jackson recently climbed Ben Nevis and will be using this as the basis of her talk called “Even Asthmatics can climb mountains: Five insights into planning and achieving your goals” at the Athena Thatcham meeting on Tuesday, 18th November at the Regency Park Hotel.

Other talks lined up for local businesswomen include a talk on how to get press coverage (by me!) which takes place at the Newbury North meeting at the Donnington Valley Hotel on Wednesday, 12th November; a speaker from Enterprise First talking about the Government Growth Voucher scheme which offers shared investment in helping you grow your business, at the Hungerford meeting at Audley Inglewood on Friday, 14th November, and advice on the ‘pensions revolution’ from Caroline Matthews, Independent Financial Advisor from CSM Financial Solutions at the Newbury South meeting on Wednesday, November 19th at the Chequers Hotel, Newbury.

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm and must be booked via regional director Debbie Miles on

The Athena Network also runs a monthly drop-in networking meeting for all local businesswomen. Called “Cappuccino Connections”, the next meeting takes place on Friday 24th October from 10am to 12pm at Strada in the Market Place, Newbury. This month’s meeting includes a talk from Jane Points Points South Travel who will be discussing 'The Importance of Customer Service' illustrating her talk with tales from India and Sri Lanka. Cappuccino Connections meetings are free for Athena members and just £5 for non-members.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Chichester fruit firm

No matter how many press releases you write, you never get bored of that feeling of seeing something you've written appear in print. What's even better is when a paper uses a release without changing it like this one here about a lovely couple expanding their fruit business.