Friday, 20 November 2015

New group for Athena West Berkshire

West Berkshire businesswomen can look forward to a fourth Athena Network group as ‘Newbury West’ launches in February.

The inaugural meeting will be from 12pm to 2.30pm on Thursday Feb 11th at the Red House in Marsh Benham and will then take place the second Thursday of every month.

The Athena Network regional director Debbie Miles decided to launch the group as she was nearing full complement at her existing Hungerford, Newbury central and Thatcham groups.
She said: “We wanted to find a location that was distinct from our existing groups and that would be accessible to people coming from the west and south of the district.

“The Red House will be a great location as it offers superb food and fits with the Athena Network ethos of quality service and a friendly atmosphere. “ We are very excited that Jacqueline Rogers the founder of The Athena Network will be our guest speaker.

“We look forward to welcoming any local business women who would like to grow their business through mutual support, collaboration and referrals.

"We have a great variety of professions in our existing groups and Newbury West will follow suit. As only one person from each profession can be represented within the group, now is a great time to join and ensure you ‘lock out’ competitors."

Friday, 13 November 2015


Nice piece about a store expansion picked up by the Wisbech Standard

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Thanks to Get West London for this.....

Monday, 28 September 2015

Brebis fundraiser for West Berkshire Mencap

It's always nice to write about fundraising events even when there are lots of photos of gorgeous food that has long since been eaten by the time the photos arrive. Many thanks to the NWN for using this one which actually raised more than it says in the piece as a lot more came in after it went to print.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Experts on contingency planning, direct mail and ‘challenging’ clients will impart their advice to West Berkshire businesswomen at The Athena Network this month.

At the Hungerford meeting on Friday October 9th at Audley Inglewood, Alison Hesketh of Time Finders will be talking about contingency planning for business and your life, sharing advice on planning ahead.
Additionally, the Athena Network regional director Debbie Miles will be discussing seven ways to create a positive impression.

On Tuesday October 20th at the Regency Park Hotel, the Thatcham group will hear Liz Cox of Signature Interiors speak about challenging clients and unsatisfactory suppliers giving advice and guidance on how to turn a difficult situation to your advantage. Toni Kent of TK Copywriting will be discussing how to be remembered after a networking event.

On Wednesday October 21st at Donnington Valley Golf Club, the Newbury group’s speaker will be Claire Stevens of Keeps Printing talking about building a successful direct mail campaign in seven easy steps. Debbie Miles will discuss the language people use in their marketing.

Additionally, there is a Cappuccino Connections event on Friday, 23rd October at Strada from 10am to 12pm in Newbury Marketplace where Sarah Gardner of ATE Ghana will be illustrating how she grew the seed of an idea to a fully-fledged venture. This is free for members and £5 for other businesswomen.

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

Job announcements

Sometimes when you're running a business, you don't think you have anything interesting to say, but an appointment press release can be a nice bit of news for the industry and possibly local press. We just received this nice bit of coverage in a business magazine:

Some things to think about when putting together a release like this:

1. Think about the "so what?" Why would a newspaper run a story about this? Is it a well-known business? Will this appointment mean a new direction for the company? While this is news for your company, is it of interest to anyone else? Don't just write it and expect it to be printed.

2. Don't write reams and reams. One side of A4 is more than enough to explain everything unless it's a household name and true industry leader.

2. Always send an up-to-date photo. If it contains a logo, ensure it's the right one! I once was asked to send a headshot out for someone from their former job with their old branding!

3. Don't use company jargon - it doesn't mean anything to anyone outside your industry.

4. Don't send too many of these at the same time - it could send out the message that there's lots of staff turnover at your business.

5. Include a quote about what their plans are. Make it realistic - there's nothing worse than reading a quote which doesn't sound at all like the person quoted!

6. Explain what their appointment means for the customer. If the appointment makes no discernible difference to your customer, it might be one to send internally.

7. Think about who this person is replacing and whether you should mention them. If they're retiring, they might like to include a quote to wish their replacement well. If the previous incumbent is leaving under a cloud, then you might want to think about the politics of sending out a release.

8. You might want to wait until your appointment has passed their probation or until you're satisfied they're going to stay on. I was once asked to send out an appointment release and by the time it hit the newsstands, the person involved was working for the competition!

Good luck!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Leadership with The Living Leader

This month’s Newbury Business News contains our interview with the utterly inspiring Penny Ferguson of the Living Leader.

Over the last 20 years inspirational Penny Ferguson has helped to transform the lives of nearly 50,000 people with her world-famous Personal Leadership Programme.

Penny, who lives in Newbury, is a familiar figure to many corporates and has written two bestsellers on leadership - The Living Leader and 52 Brilliant Ideas – How to Transform your Life. She and her team of eight now deliver training programmes via the Living Leader from their base at Greenham Business Park, Newbury, to big companies, colleges and other organisations across the globe. And now, with the help of her daughter Emma, Penny also wants to influence young people to take responsibility and create better lives for themselves.

But things haven’t always been easy for 72-year-old Penny who has had to overcome a series of intensely traumatic experiences. Prior to a life-changing decision one day in 1995 to change her way of thinking, Penny led a life that wouldn’t have been out of place in a TV soap. Her own mother abandoned her when she was a four-month-old baby, and Penny was sent to boarding school at an early age where she was bullied. She was later raped at the age of 18 and then married three times with six children by the age of 30. Left penniless by three divorces, she decided to turn her life around when she received the devastating news that one of her sons had died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of just 26.

The emotionally-battered housewife realised that something had to change and that something was her.

She said: “For me, there was a pivotal moment when I stood back and evaluated my life one day when out walking the dogs. I took a long hard look at where I was right then and didn’t like what I saw. I recognised at that moment that I was blaming outside circumstances for everything that had happened to me, avoiding the obvious common denominator – me! It’s this insight that enabled me to develop the Personal Leadership Programme.”

Her philosophy revolves around three key ways of thinking; that you choose your own thoughts; you need to understand responsibility at a far deeper level and recognising your own communication and its impact.

Penny adds: “The example I often give is that if you’re stuck at a standstill in traffic for a few hours, you’re likely to be in a bad mood when you get home, probably spoiling everyone’s life around you. But traffic is traffic – it’s you who has chosen to get angry. You choose your thoughts, no one else does. You can blame the traffic and shout or you could listen to a CD or plan a presentation. Once you take control, you are then making the choice and being a leader.”

Penny believes that younger people in particular have a tendency to point the finger at circumstances outside themselves, and has recently started work with a charity called Get Connected to try to support young people turning their lives around. The Living Leader has recently supported Get Connected with a £10,000 sponsorship and her daughter Emma, who is the commercial director at the Living Leader took part in the Luxembourg leg. Penny herself gave a motivational speech at the event, giving her backing in order to share her leadership know-how with a very committed audience.

Penny said: “If there is one refrain that I hear again and again when I am running The Personal Leadership Programme, it is ‘I wish I had learnt this when I was younger’. At The Living Leader we are passionate about helping young people and that is why we now sponsor this amazing organisation that provides help to many disadvantaged young people – I wish it had been in existence when I was growing up.

“I know with an absolute certainty that if we can give young people the opportunities to be heard, to be supported, to be given the skills that will enable them to motivate themselves, they can become outstanding leaders of tomorrow.”

“Growing up I guess I was pretty confused about what I wanted to be or do, either at work or play. My self-esteem was incredibly low and when I was in my fifties, I had finally come out of three pretty abusive marriages, was in debt and altogether a pretty good mess.

“It was only then that I began to discover my real purpose and the last 20 years have been an amazing journey of learning, succeeding, real joy and a feeling of true worth. Apart from having six beautiful children I would have to consider that much of those 50 years were wasted even though I have taken much of that time as painful learning that I can use to this very day.

“If there had been people that I could talk to when I had been in the painful early stages of discovering who I really was and how I could move past the really unhelpful beliefs that then held me back for so many years. I am very certain that my life would have turned out differently and maybe I would have quickly learnt how to avoid such obvious repeating patterns of abuse. I could have truly changed my thinking and certainly changed my life.”

The Personal Leadership Programme is much acclaimed by professionals and heads of industry with massive improvements in turnover reported, but more importantly, feedback such as “improved motivation, more openness, brilliant ideas, a real team now developing, higher quality decisions and improved relationships.” Penny admits to huge pride from a recent conversation with a young person who took part in the programme as part of a college project. Disengaged and isolated at the beginning, after the programme, he told Penny that he was now much happier and enjoying a better relationship with his father.

“What changed?” she asked him. “I did”, he said.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

West Berkshire Mencap invites you to its fundraising dinner at Brebis (16/9)

There are still places for a fund-raising dinner on Wednesday, 16th September, at Brebis in aid of West Berkshire Mencap.

Samuel Mansfield, Chef Patron of Brebis, has designed a unique menu which includes drinks on arrival, canap├ęs, a starter, main course, dessert, coffee, petit four plus a half bottle of wine.
He said: “We’re delighted to be offering our support for the charity through a dedicated evening of cooking. It’s a great way to raise awareness for the work that West Berkshire Mencap does locally and we’re hoping that this will be the first in a series of similar events we will be running.”

Leila Ferguson, chief executive at West Berkshire Mencap, added: “As an enthusiastic foodie myself, we are thrilled to working with Brebis and would invite anyone who is interested in experiencing a wonderful evening of fabulous food and great company to get in touch and to come and join us.”

The evening costs £50 per person to attend. If you are interested in attending please contact The Mencap Centre.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Ditch the car #eastlondon

Thank you Waltham Forest Guardian!

If you're in East London (Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Newham or Hackney), then please get involved! This walking competition takes place from 23rd September to 11th November and there are great prizes just for taking part, as well as a huge prize fund for the teams that walk the furthest!

Check it out here:

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

How to get the best from your architect

We were thrilled to be asked by Absolute Architecture to write a piece about a beautiful project that they'd recently worked on.

The piece appeared in the Homebuilding and Renovating magazine in July with some gorgeous house-envy inducing pictures. The magazine liked it so much that they then came back to us and asked Kate for some advice about "how to get the best from your architect". She duly typed out some tips which have appeared in this month's magazine, positioning her as the expert she is on these matters!

Not everyone would have been in a position to capitalise on the two opportunities that arose here but Kate did all of the right things from a PR point of view.

Firstly, Kate realised that her strong before and after pictures would make a lovely magazine piece and took the time to get professional photographs. She then ensured the architectural story was backed up by a strong human interest piece about the impact that the great design had on the family that lived with it.

Secondly, when the magazine came back to her, she wrote up some great tips immediately. People don't always do this and it is a huge wasted opportunity! Sometimes I could cry when a client is approached by a magazine like this and they say that they haven't got time, or that they can do it next month or even worse, that they don't want to give the secrets of the trade away for free!

Kate was quick to act with practical advice, aware that journalists work to tight deadlines. If you don't come back, or don't place this of high enough importance then a journalist is unlikely to approach you again.

Also, never be afraid to give away your advice and insights for free. It's always worth sharing what you know. It positions you as the expert and when someone needs a person with your skills, they'll instantly think of you.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Points South trips to India

Massive thanks to Out and About magazine as well as Points South for the page in this month's issue.

Jane designs bespoke trips to India and really takes the time to get to know what you'd like to see and to ensure the trip meets your exact requirements.

She said: "Many thanks for achieving this, I've already had an enquiry yesterday!"

Bank Holiday weather and the corner shop

I wrote this press release for a lovely couple who'd recently unveiled their new look shop after investing in expanding and refurbishing it.

Thanks to both local papers for using the piece.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


In this week's Farmers Weekly.

*h/t Sharon!

Monday, 24 August 2015

A cracking story!

Many thanks to the Leicester Mercury for using this!


After a break for summer, West Berkshire businesswomen are ready to network again with the Athena Network.
The Hungerford meeting takes place on Friday, 11th September at Audley Inglewood, where Vikki Champion of Vie Photography will be talking about the importance of imagery in the marketing mix.
The Thatcham group will at the Regency Park Hotel on Tuesday 15th September where Sarah Bromham from Radiance Therapy will be discussing how to avoid stress while in the network strategy training Debbie will be encouraging members to define their networking goals and discussing how to achieve them.
The Newbury group meeting takes place at La Tasca on Wednesday 16th September where Kate Talbot of Shore Financial Planning will be talking about financial tax planning and offering tips to build wealth and legitimately mitigate tax.
Debbie Miles, regional director for the Athena Network, said: “After a break from Athena meetings in August where we had a relaxed social, we’re looking forward to kicking-starting the new season.”
All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm.

Monday, 17 August 2015


I’ve always been one to smell the roses. Literally.

Yet life has been passing me by in a blur of work, going out, rushing here, rushing there, worrying about the McBaby and everything else. My neighbours who see me leave the house know how forgetful I’ve become and I’m frequently awoken at 4am by nagging thoughts and to-do lists.

I knew that my relentless multi-tasking, planning ahead and constant planning was not doing me any good so when I met Sheila Bond from Living Well Mindfulness a few weeks ago, I knew it was people like me that she had in mind!

I tried out her taster session over the weekend and was not at all surprised to hear that they have been described as “life changing”.

Her sessions are for anyone, but typically enjoyed by people who are stressed or unwell. Or anyone who likes chocolate! After a mini meditation where we stayed still and closed our eyes that enabled us to take our awareness from the scalp, right through the body to the feet, we were invited to eat a piece of chocolate mindfully. That is, not in my usual fashion of shoving it down my neck and moving onto the next one.

We held it, looked at it, smelled it, admired its texture and then put it into our mouths and savoured every moment. Slowing down the experience and truly experiencing it properly was a bit of an eye-opener.

These classes should be on the national curriculum. Can you imagine how much nicer life would be if people were mindful of each other, if they weren’t obsessed with being in a rush. And if everyone was in the moment completely? Imagine conversations where people look at you instead of at their phones!

I’ve decided to be more aware and more present since yesterday and already I can feel the benefits. I slept better last night and have eaten particularly sensibly today having eaten my breakfast properly instead of wolfing it down.

Sheila’s courses start in September. Check them out here:

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

My recipe for a press release without a soggy bottom

With the Great British Bake Off returning to our screens tonight, I thought I'd write the obligatory tie-in blog post.

I find the programme fascinating even though I'm a terrible baker. While it's great to watch, it doesn't really help people like me learn the basics of baking. While there were some handy tips to be learned in the earliest series, it's becoming more and more out of reach. I know I'm not a baker, but I can't be the only person who has never heard of some of the items that were required by the technical challenge, let alone ever tried to make them. A Swedish Princess Cake? And what on earth is a "kouign-amann"?

Cooking up a lovely press release is more my thing. And much like my baking, I like to keep things simple, so here's my recipe for a straightforward, but delicious press release:


one dollop of human interest

one photo

one page of A4

Cooking time: about an hour.

Set your PC to "word document" and try to keep to within one page of A4.

What to do:

1. Start with the intro. This is where you put your "who, when, what, where."

2. Once you've perfected that, then you can start talking about the "why".

3. Gradually add more facts that help to tell the story. To taste.

4. Stir in some relevant statistics and a case study or two.

5. Now add a quote from you or someone relevant within your business.

6. Serve up with a photo and your contact details



Sunday, 2 August 2015

Silent Sunday 2.8.15

Meeting at work this week opposite Mornington Crescent - this pleased me no end.

Monday, 27 July 2015

West Berkshire Mencap

I had the great pleasure of attending a garden party today held in the sensory garden at West Berkshire Mencap. As you may know if you're local to the area, this charity is completely unrelated to Mencap and for 60 years has supported local people with learning disabilities, their families and carers.

Under the leadership of their utterly brilliant CEO Leila, the charity supports hundreds of people to live their lives as fully as they want to and runs all manner of services ranging from the Bubble Club for children between 0 and 5; Gateway Clubs which helps people with learning disabilities take part in leisure activities to all kinds of clubs. It's no surprise to learn that they are winners of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

There's also Link-Up, which is a work skills project for people with learning disabilities to work with businesses which means a win-win for everyone. The business gets high-quality services such as greeting card labelling and distribution, mailshots, repackaging retail items and mailshots and the workers get invaluable experience in the world of work.

As usual, I was blown away by the stories, the happy atmosphere in this inspiring environment and the positive attitude of people here as well as the range of fundraising endeavours from music nights to bungee jumps in the marketplace though to boot sales and zumbathons!

Thanks for inviting me - here's a link to what they do:

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Stevenage Comet!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Watford coverage!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Monday, 6 July 2015

A walk in the park 2 (Stevenage)

A walk in the park...(Watford)

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Friday, 26 June 2015

Thanks Stevenage Comet!

Clever headline!

Thanks Lowestoft Journal who are also taking part in the walking challenge!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Lowestoft’s Beat the Street challenge officially gets underway with early morning walk!

Lowestoft’s four-week long Beat the Street challenge is officially underway after being launched on Monday morning with an early seaside walk led by Lowestoft Rising and Sentinel Leisure.

A group of people enjoyed the walk along the promenade to Pakefield which was organised by Phil Aves from Lowestoft Rising. He said: “Thanks to everyone who got up early to start Beat the Street the right way! We had a lovely walk and ensured that everyone who took part got their bonus points!

“There’s still time to sign up for the Beat the Street initiative so if you feel you, your family or your workplace could benefit from developing a habit of doing more physical activity, then come and get involved. We’re also grateful to Waveney District Council for supporting Monday’s walk with free parking.”

Beat the Street is a real-life walking game taking place in Lowestoft from Monday 22nd June to Tuesday, 21st July. Anyone from Lowestoft is invited to sign up and find maps and card distribution points at Players are invited to join a school team that will be linked to a charity. It is completely free for residents to take part.

The Beat the Street initiative is supported by Lowestoft Rising, in partnership with Suffolk County Council’s Public Health and Health East, as part of Suffolk’s desire to become “England’s most active county” and to encourage people to be more physically active.
Players must tap their smart cards on special sensors called ‘beat boxes’ which are attached to lamp posts approximately half a mile apart around Lowestoft; players simply tap two of these within an hour to record their journey and score points.

The school team or charity who travels the furthest can win up to £1,000. If Lowestoft reaches the collective target of 25,000 miles (the distance around the world), the organisers will make a £1,500 donation to a charity pot for the Lowestoft Summer Festival, which in turn will be shared with a number of local charities who can apply for a share. There will also be cash prizes for the runners-up.

There is a grand prize draw with two great prizes for everyone who taps 100 different beatboxes; Sentinel Leisure Trust has donated a week’s hire of a beach hut and Excelsior Trust has donated a day’s sailing for two. There is also an extensive range of ‘lucky tap’ prizes including free swims, Fitbits, photo-shoots, meal vouchers, cycle accessories and water taxi trips which have generously been donated by Lowestoft businesses and can be won simply by taking part.

More information, as well as rules, maps and a list of card distribution points is available at as well as on Facebook (Beat the Street Lowestoft) and Twitter @btslowestoft

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Athena Network - expert speakers for July include social media, decision-making and addressing old beliefs that hold you back

Business topics including social media, decision-making and expanding your mind are all on offer for West Berkshire businesswomen, all combined with a delicious lunch.

The Athena Network’s speakers for July include Lis Allen from The Vagina Dialogues, who will speak to the Hungerford group at Audley Inglewood on Friday, 10th July, on how to address old beliefs and habits that hold people back.

In the meeting’s networking strategy training, Debbie will be discussing return on investment and how you can measure what you’re getting back in terms of your networking investment.

At the Thatcham group on Tuesday, 14th July at the Regency Park Hotel, writer Toni Kent will advise on using a simple decision-making matrix can help you make important decisions quickly. In the meeting’s networking strategy training, Debbie Miles will be talking about the ‘Ten Commandments of Leading Ladies’.

The Newbury group will meet on Wednesday, 15th July where Claire Burdett from The Media Marketing Co will be explaining how social media enhances SEO and gives your business increased traction. There will also be tips on how to get your website to the top of searches for you key terms just by using social media.

Debbie Miles, regional director of the West Berkshire Athena Network, said: “As ever, we’ve got a varied, yet useful range of topics from expert speakers who are also members. We look forward to seeing members and guests at the July meetings for more nurturing and support to help you grow your business.”

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm. For more information, contact Debbie Miles on


Friday, 19 June 2015

Hemel Gazette!

Thank you HG for running this update!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Ladies' Day at Ascot

It's ladies' day at Ascot! And if you, like me, aren't going, then check out this piece from Emma Moscow, a milliner who has made many of the amazing creations you'll see in the next couple of days!

Royal Ascot takes place in June and with unpredictable weather and the need to balance making a statement with sticking to the rules, it can be hard for first-timers to know what to wear.

As hats must be worn at Ascot, Boxford-based milliner Emma Moscow believes that your headwear is the key to success and adds that there are some key points to remember.

She said: “If you get your outfit right, then you can concentrate on having a great time at this prestigious event. Royal Ascot is an opportunity to wear a statement hat and pretty much anything goes as long as it’s within the rules, especially on Ladies’ Day. However I think it’s worth remembering that it is a formal occasion and that style and elegance should not be thrown out of the window in favour of standing out.

Susie Freeman from Susie Freeman Travel wearing an Emma Moscow hat.

“Remember that there are strict rules over outfits, particularly for the Royal Enclosure and the grandstand. The rules state that formal daywear of modest length must be worn; midriffs must be covered and trousers must be full length. Many people don’t realise that spaghetti straps and strapless dresses are not permitted either, even under a jacket.

Emma says that you should
1. Choose your outfit first as it is easier to match a hat to an outfit than the other way round.

2. It’s a daytime event and people often wear jackets or coats. A more substantial hat or headpiece looks more balanced with a tailored outfit.

3. It is often windy at Ascot so make sure your hat fits well and is securely fixed to your head. Avoid any hats that are too tall and will catch the breeze! Hair grips can be useful for securing a head piece – it might be worth stowing some spares in your handbag!

4. Choose a hat that fits well and flatters you. You will feel more confident if your hat is unique, comfortable and made-to-measure. Don’t be afraid to try everything on, as they can often look very different on the wearer than on the stand.

5. Pay attention to how you wear your hat. There is a tendency for people to push their hats too far back. Generally they look better tilted forward and if you are wearing a hat or headdress designed to be worn on the side, they look very chic angled over the eyebrow.

6. If your hat is not exactly the same colour as your outfit, then it’s probably best to choose a complementary or accent colour. I think it can work really well to use a contrasting colour somewhere in your accessories, even if it is just a splash.

7. Unless you are going to be in a private box, you will probably be on your feet for a lot of the day and if you like to go to the parade ring before a race then there is a surprising amount of walking to do, so wear shoes that are fairly comfortable. If you have bought new shoes then try and wear them in a little at home. I’ll never forget the first time I went, I didn’t wear a very high heel but my shoes were new and by the end of the day my feet were agony!

8. It is also worth remembering that you will be on grass some of the time so stilettos are not ideal, a thicker heel or a wedge works much better, especially if it is wet.

“Above all, make sure you’re comfortable so you can enjoy this very special event and concentrate on the day’s racing!”

For more information visit,

#ladiesday #royalascot #ascot

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Ten things small businesses should think about before embarking on PR #lovegorkana

All too often, businesses come to me and ask for PR without really understanding what it is and why they need it. I frequently hear people say things like "our local paper is rubbish - I sent them a release and they didn't use it" or "they used my release but I didn't get any business from it."

PR is a marathon - it really is a case of the tortoise versus the hare. If you send in regular, consistently high-quality releases and are prepared for the fact that not all will be used, then the journalists will retain your name and turn to you when they need a story. Remember that it's a privilege to be featured in the press, particularly when you consider that advertising in the papers can reach into the hundreds of thousands, so make sure your story is of interest to their readers; not just advertising or self-promotion.

Here are some things that should be considered before you start to use PR to put your business name out there.

1. Customer service

Your customer service must be impeccable. All staff should be aware of the company's aims and any special offers that you're trying to promote. There is nothing worse than the media doing your promotion and telling their readers that you are offering this and that, only for a potential customer to walk in to your shop and for the person there to proclaim they know nothing about it. Ditto customers who make a special journey to see your offering only to be on the receiving end of rude staff.

2. Know your message

Keep things simple - one message at a time. Don't overcomplicate stories by trying to include too much.

3. Read the papers

If you want to appear in the press, then you need to read your local papers to get a feel for their style and to know what kind of stories they use. You also need to see what the competition is up to! Reading around your own trade is essential too and only takes a few minutes a day. It's also a good idea to know what's going on in the national news as this will help inform your writing and keep it up-to-date. It will also provide great ideas on which you can piggyback. As a former journalist myself, I felt it was quite disrespectful when people phoned up asking us to use a story and then ask for copies when it's in print "because I don't ever read your paper."

4. Prepare a bio

Always have a short piece ready on your work achievements, awards and anything else that highlights your expertise. It's also worth including your age plus anything quirky you do outside work.

5. Make sure you have a good quality headshot ready.

"Yes we'd like to use your release! Have you got a photo please?" Don't say "help yourself to one from my website or Facebook page" - it shows you're not interested, plus will be entirely too small for print. Try not to send a picture from your phone. Or one with your dog or one where you've hastily chopped someone else out! Ask a professional photographer - preferably one who understands what you do and can reflect this in the pictures.

6. Make time to brainstorm.

Set aside some time every week, with your team if you have one, to find out what's going on and what they're up to. You'd be amazed at what you find out!

7. Follow newspapers on Twitter.

Also follow your favourite journalists. They often will post queries on Twitter and if you can help, your name will be the first they think of when they need an expert in your field.

8. Know who does what.

Familiarise yourself with various publications and make sure you don't send motoring stories to the sports editor.

9. Know the deadlines.

Make sure you're not calling at a bad moment as this will get you remembered for the wrong reasons. Weekly papers tend to be slightly less busy at the end of the week and daily papers are busy in the evenings. Check before you call!

10. Case studies

Always ask your customers whether they're happy to be quoted as it gives credence to the service you offer. When someone gives you a testimonial, ask if you can use it, plus their name, for your media activity.

Margaret #lovegorkana

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

MItchells refurb in the Waveney Advertiser

Well worth a trip to Lowestoft yesterday!

"Let's walk around the world, Lowestoft!"

Thanks Lowestoft Journal for this piece here plus the front page of the Waveney Advertiser!

Monday, 15 June 2015

"Ace" photo

Just thought I'd share this as it shows that it pays to have a bit of fun with your photography...we served up a line-up pic at the launch of the newly-refurbished courts at Hungerford Tennis Club, but then borrowed some ace racquets to set up this shot which we love! *

*apologies for the terrible puns.

Around the world in 30 days!

3,2,1, go! Lowestoft is now on a mission to walk around the world in a new walking challenge called Beat the Street.

The four-week long competition was officially launched at Northfields St Nicholas Primary School this week by pupils from the school, as well as East Point Academy, Poplars Primary School and the Ashley School Academy Trust. In attendance was the deputy mayor of Lowestoft Nick Webb, Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and other representatives from the community.

Anyone from Lowestoft is invited to sign up for the challenge at and can join a school team that will be linked to a charity. It is completely free for residents to take part.

To play, residents pick up a Beat the Street card plus a map from local libraries, GP practices, leisure centres and local businesses which will all be listed on the website. Schoolchildren will receive a card through their school.

Special sensors called ‘beat boxes’ have started to appear on lamp posts around Lowestoft; players simply tap two of these within an hour to record their journey and score points.

The school team or charity who travels the furthest can win up to £1,000. If Lowestoft reaches the target, the organisers will make a £1,500 donation to a charity pot for the Lowestoft Summer Festival, which in turn will be shared with a number of local charities who can apply for a share. There will also be cash prizes for the runners up.

The Beat the Street initiative is supported by Lowestoft Rising, in partnership with Suffolk County Council’s Public Health and Health East, in a bid to encourage people to be more physically active. Lowestoft has been set a collective target of 25,000 miles which is the distance around the world, so the more people that sign up and take part, the better!

Beat the Street takes place in Lowestoft from 22nd June to 21st July and is being delivered as part of Suffolk’s ambition to become “England’s Most Active County”. To kick off the exciting challenge, a special “first walk" launch event is being held on the first day of Beat the Street Lowestoft, on Monday 22nd June.

The walk will be led by Lowestoft Rising and Sentinel Leisure and is open to all. It starts at the South Pier (box number 6) at 7.30am and be a gentle walk along the prom and sea front to Pakefield. The full walk will take about an hour but participants needn’t do the whole walk. There will be free parking for the hour at Royal Green Car Park, supported by Waveney District Council, and bonus points for taking part!

Veronica Reynolds from Intelligent Health, the company that is running the Beat the Street challenge, said: “We’re thrilled to be launching Beat the Street in Lowestoft. It’s a very popular scheme that has had real results in other towns across the UK. We’re keen for everyone in the community to get involved and hope the competitive element will inspire people to get walking and tapping!”

Mayor of Lowestoft Stephen Ardley added: “It’s great to get behind Beat the Street which is a positive and engaging way of encouraging the community to get active and combat the growing threat of obesity. Come on Lowestoft!”

Ollie Winram, a PE teacher from Northfields Primary School which hosted the launch, added: “I think it’s an amazing project and great for the children as well as for the local area. It’s a brilliant way of involving the whole community and getting everyone more active.”


Lowestoft Rising aims to integrate public services in a unique way, bringing together Suffolk County Council, Waveney District Council, Suffolk Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner's office and Health East (CCG) together with the Voluntary Sector in order to address a range of social issues.

Health East is the local Clinical Commissioning Group for Waveney and Great Yarmouth responsible for Health care needs of the Community. They are part of the #Lowestoft Rising partnership and as local commissioners keen to see the community being more active and healthy.

#BeattheStreet is run by Intelligent Health. Intelligent Health are experts in physical activity strategy and delivery. Intelligent Health creates high quality, innovative products which combat physical inactivity across communities and improves health and well-being. Beat the street is fun, inclusive and engaging. For more visit

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Beat the Street Lowestoft

If you know anyone who lives in the most easterly point in England, then please let them know about this exciting initiative to get people walking! It starts on 22nd June and lasts for four weeks. As well as getting people more active, there are great prizes to be won.

The Lowestoft Journal is behind it!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Walking, cycling and running!

The response to Hertfordshire's @BTSherts and is tremendous having got going last Wednesday.

Lovely coverage here from the Comet and the Hemel Gazette today!

Thursday, 4 June 2015


Happinez magazine stands out amongst the crowd of celebrity and diet obsessed publications aimed at women, but then so does its price tag. At £6.95, it's almost three times more expensive than other titles - this of course, is what piqued my interest!

The magazine has been going for some years now in its native Holland, as well as Germany but the current issue is the first one in the UK. It's got a definite spiritual vibe, and caters for those who love mindfulness, yoga, wisdom and inspiration. If you're wondering why it's spelt with a "z"; it's named after its founder Inez van Oord - hence "happINEZ" which irked me at first.

"I'll stick to Hello magazine", was the verdict of the lady in the supermarket who heard me shouting "£6.95?" repeatedly. In my defence, I said this was me being mindful...of my wallet. As well as the price, my other quibbles are that there are one or two slightly over-posed photos and the occasional caption lost in translation.

However, it is truly thrilling to see a magazine promoting fair trade products and incentives that give real benefit to communities in developing countries. I love that Happinez isn't frightened to do a three-page spread on magnesium. Their celebrity interview isn't with an actress or reality TV star, but a spiritual teacher; interior design takes the form of a wobbly, but stunning glass house on a lake. The photos, particularly the ones of nature, are uplifting.

There's a healthy recipe section that contains properly healthy recipes, not just slightly recued fat, and there's a section on yoga poses. The magazine closes by asking you to share some inspiration tags, as well as an invitation to enjoy the next edition (albeit without saying when it's due out.)

I love that my job allows me to sit in outside in a field reading a magazine such as this and call it work - I love being able to identify magazines that will be likely to accept my articles and interviews; I love reading through wondering if any of my clients fit the bill as a possible subject. I love finding a publication that speaks to people like me - people who think a bit differently, who question things, who aren't interested in what someone from TV is up to (OK - perhaps a few exceptions here), and who want a little bit of inspiration now an again. While it's not for everyone and I don't think they'll be publishing anything by me any time soon, I think I've found something to read in a field.

On that note, I'll leave you with this:

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Silent Sunday 31.5.15

Sunrise over Great early morning this week promoting, the walking and cycling challenge coming to the town from 22.6 to 21.7!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Hertfordshire Walking challenge!

Do you know anyone in Hemel who would like to take part?

(Or #Broxbourne, #Hemel or #Stevenage!)

Thanks to the Newmarket Journal!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

On the menu

Our cooking tips appeared in a number of wedding supplements - advice on how the best way to approach the food for your big day!


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Athena Network West Berkshire - June 2015

Deb Lester-George from the West Berkshire Business Awards will be encouraging members of the Athena Network to enter the prestigious competition when she speaks at the Newbury Athena group on Wednesday 17th June.

The meeting takes place at La Tasca and Debbie Miles will also discuss how Stephen Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Effective People’ can be applied to networking.

The Hungerford group meets at Audley Inglewood on Friday, 12th June where there will be a talk about ‘sales confidence’, and the Thatcham group meets at the Regency Park Hotel on Tuesday, 16th June where Dale Campbell of Trademark Tribe will be talking about intellectual property and how not to get ripped off.

Debbie Miles, regional director of the West Berkshire Athena Network, said: “We’re looking forward more networking, collaboration and support. All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm. For more information, contact Debbie Miles @athenawberksdeb



A £100,000 refurbishment is underway at Mitchells Renault in Lowestoft to ensure the Long Road showroom meets the marque’s latest corporate standards called “Renault STORE”.

The renovation work will take place in three distinct phases in order to minimise disruption to customers and should be completed in July. Once finished, Mitchells will be one of the first Renault showrooms in the UK to have the new corporate identity.

The new-look showroom will have a digital focus with five large video screens, and a more relaxed style. Customers are able to personalise the interiors and exteriors of their new vehicles, so staff will be equipped with iPads as well as desktop computers.

Three separate zones will be created within the dealership; a new car zone, a ZE zone for Renault’s electric vehicles and a Dacia zone. There will be free wifi throughout the showroom and the aftersales department will be rendered more informal and comfortable with the removal of the service counter.

Matthew Huke-Jenner, owner and managing director, said: “We’ve invested in creating a showroom that really complements exciting models such as the Clio, Captur and the forthcoming Kadjar, that will grace our dealership in this, our 40th anniversary year. We want to ask our loyal customers to bear with us and to apologise for the disruption.

“It will all be worth the wait as the new showroom will help make the customer experience more hi-tech, relaxed and comfortable.

“When it’s finished, we’ll be holding a launch weekend, so please watch this space for an announcement!”

The Mitchells showroom should look like this when complete.