Friday, 27 February 2015


A sales executive at Mitchells in Lowestoft has racked up an amazing achievement with the handover of his 1,000th car in just five years.
Jonathan Kent presented his 1,000th car, a brand new Mégane Sport Tourer to customer Ann Calver from Mutford.
He said: “It was pure coincidence that we counted down to 1,000. I’d recently had an appraisal so just out of interest, we’d had a look at our management system to see how many new and used cars I’d sold and it was 980. We then began to count down which was fun and we were delighted that the 1,000th customer was Ann who has bought several cars from us previously.”
His boss, managing director and owner of Mitchells, Matthew Huke-Jenner, said that Jonathan’s performance was consistently outstanding and that his success was down to his rapport with the customers.
He added: “Jonathan has surpassed all expectations especially when you consider that we’re based in Lowestoft, rather than a big city. The industry average in the car industry is 150 a year but Jonathan has exceeded that thanks to his knowledge of the product, his relationship with the customers and bespoke in-house training.”

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Ferocious Dog interview in this week's NWN!

My interview with Dan from Ferocious Dog in which I sneak in a reference to my favourite band the Levellers!

Monday, 23 February 2015

What's on at Athena West Berkshire in March

Networking over lunch, plus moral support for those who work alone, are on offer for West Berkshire businesswomen this month with The Athena Network.

Speakers this month include Rachel Cox of Amica Marketing who will be leading a practical session on how to write a marketing plan at the Newbury north group at the Chequers Hotel on Wednesday, 11th March.

Laura Cooper of Pink Spaghetti PA Services will be guiding the Hungerford group through simple ways to manage your digital life on Friday, 13th March at Audley Inglewood, Kintbury.

The following week sees a talk from Sue Jackson of Working Numbers and Fiona Jones of NumberWork Services on “the difference between bookkeeping and accounting” on Tuesday, 17th March at the Regency Park Hotel.

Finally, Lis Allen of ‘the Vagina Dialogues’ will be giving tips on effective communication at the Newbury South meeting at La Tasca on Wednesday, 18th March.

All other meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm for West Berkshire businesswomen.

Friday, 20 February 2015


Members of the West Berkshire Athena Network raised more than £100 for the British Heart Foundation at their Newbury north meeting this week.
Local businesswomen were invited to wear red to the meeting and to donate to the “Wear it. Beat it” campaign during their monthly networking meeting.
Debbie Miles, regional director of The Athena Network, said: “Thanks to everyone who donated and also to those businesses who gave a prize to be raffled off; we had a business coaching session from Business Fit Club, a simple will from Gardner Leader, a business finance consultation from Griffins and physiotherapy from Carolyn Hogg.”


Banchory-based outdoor equipment and clothes supplier relocates to new, larger premises

Looking out of the window right now, it seems apt that this cutting should appear in my inbox! This is a story I recently wrote about an active entrepreneur who is expanding his outdoor wear shop and has converted a disused and unsightly nightclub into a newly-expanded store!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ten things to do BEFORE you send a press release

Taken from my talk at Big Breakfast Club Hungerford this week. Many thanks for inviting me to speak!

1. 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. For example, there was recently a buzz about David Tennant's debut appearance on Just a Minute where he successfully delivered a full minute on "Exeunt, pursued by a bear" without deviation, repetition or deviation. If you were a professional speaker, then this would be a great opportunity to promote what you do!

2. Prepare a bio

Just have a paragraph 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.

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

Not a picture from your phone. And not one with your dog or one where you've hastily chopped someone else out!

4. 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!

5. 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.

6. Know who does what.

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

7. Know the deadlines.

Make sure you're not calling at a bad moment as this will get you remembered for the wrong reasons.

8. Case studies

Always ask your customers whether they're happy to be quoted as it gives credence to the service you offer.

9. Be nice.

Journalists, and call centre staff, seem to be the only people that get shouted at over the phone. Always be polite and professional. It sounds obvious, but I can't count the number of times people have shouted at me about something that, as a reporter, was out of my hands!

"The picture is in black and white!"

"I wanted to be on page 18, not page 31!"

"I'm a Ms, not a Mrs!"

10. Keep going.

Don't give up after one press release. Try to do about one a month so if it doesn't get used, it's not the end of the world.

Good luck!


Wednesday, 18 February 2015


An Oulton Broads-based florist has taken delivery of her latest vehicle just in time for her busiest day of the year.

Ann Sexton from Sarah-Jane Florists has bought Renault Trafic vans from Mitchells Renault since she started the business 17 years ago. She recently turned to the Long Road dealer again for help when it was time to replace her current model.

She said: “After eight years in my previous Renault van, it was time to get a 64-plate New Trafic that would get even more miles to the gallon. We’re in the van 24/7 so were looking for something economical and comfortable. It’s lime green with cerise flowers so you can’t miss me”, she joked.

Justin Brown, sales executive from Mitchells added: “Ann’s job means she is used to putting smiles on her customers’ faces, so it was nice to be able to do the same for her and to hands over the keys to her New Trafic just in time for Valentine’s Day.”


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

20 jobs created at Consett based caravan company following six-figure funding boost

I loved writing this press release! It took every inch of willpower not to buy a motorhome while I was working with them though!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Rosa’s hits a six

Delighted to see this in print - I actually wrote the press release back in September so it's been a long time coming! It's worth it though to see press coverage for a lovely couple who have worked extremely hard to make it happen!

B is for "Buy the newspapers" (the A-Z of getting press coverage)

If you want to be featured in the press, then it makes sense that you should buy your local paper! It sounds obvious but not everyone does it!

As well as buying the local papers, I suggest also keeping up-to-date with your relevant trade magazines and also national newspapers.

I know not everyone has time, but it’s important to read the local paper as much as possible to understand the kind of stories they cover, the type of coverage that businesses get and to see what your competitors are up to.
You need to understand the tone and the layout and to get to know the way journalists work so you can send them things that will interest them.

Also, it shows a proper commitment and loyalty – local newspapers are such a valuable resource and a focal point of the community. Circulations may be dropping, but that’s why it’s even more crucial that you support them.

Having been on the other side of the fence, I remember a woman calling me when I was a reporter with a press release about her business. I reassured her that I had written it up but that I couldn’t guarantee if and when it would appear in print. She called me every week and shouted that it hadn’t gone in. Four weeks of shouting every Thursday and I had to point out that it actually had appeared two weeks back. “Oh, I don’t actually READ the paper,” she said. I’m not sure we used anything else she sent in…..

Read your newspaper - it should cost less than £1 a week!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

"Segwaying" into Valentine's Day

Don't forget that February is the month of love, so if you provide a product or service to help out those men and women who don't know where to start on Valentine's Day, then make sure you shout about it!

On that note, I give you a guest post from MrM about our Segway experience - perfect for Valentine's or indeed any day of the year!

MrM and his wife found a day spare on their last visit to Paris and decided to explore the most romantic city in the world from a new perspective.

What could be better than a romantic walk arm-in-arm around the beautiful streets of Paris? Answer: Doing it on a Segway.

On a beautiful sunny Valentine’s Day afternoon we find ourselves at the south pillar of the Eiffel Tower waiting for our tour guide, Seth, to arrive watching people join the end of a queue for the tower. And although we’ve not met him before, we identify him immediately, coming quickly, but effortlessly towards us.

We’ve booked onto the Segway tour, organised by Fat Tire Bike Tours. Our guide is a twentysomething from Colorado who is making it look easy, chatting nonchalantly with his hand in his pocket. Marge and I look at each other with nervous trepidation.

We follow him back to the office, just around the corner, Seth gliding through the throng of visitors while we struggle to keep up on foot. Fat Tire Bike Tours’ office is piled high with mountain bikes with a handful of Segways in the corner charging.

The Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle invented by Dean Kamen which uses gyroscopes to stay upright.

Simply lean forward to go forward, lean back to slow down and go backward, and turn by leaning left and right with the handlebar. What could be simpler?

Gyroscopic sensors are used to detect forward and backwards motion and leaning left to right. Keeping relaxed, maintaining your balance and confidence are the three key elements to riding a Segway.

While we sign our lives away, Seth outlines some of the injuries he’s seen in the last couple of weeks on his tours: dislocated wrists, broken bones.

We suddenly get very nervous as our helmets are being fastened up. There are six in our group - another English couple and a frighteningly sporty looking American couple.

The American man gets on the Segway making it look as easy as riding an escalator, and his wife makes it look easier still, doing a loop around us.

Marge looks like a giraffe that’s just been born. I wobble backwards and forward and then realise I am making strange sounds like watching fireworks.

I gingerly attempt to make left turns as if I’m a five-year-old riding my bike for the first time with the stabilisers taken off. My precarious lurches are increasingly making me think about making my excuses and leaving. The thought of negotiating walkers, and parked cars fills me with dread. Everyone else in the group is getting cocky and rolling backwards and forwards with ease. I worry. I worry even more when we’re told to practise a kerb. Everybody does this with confidence and ease. I panic, slow down, narrowly miss a tree, and swerve violently back upon myself and hit the kerb without any momentum at all. This sends the Segway reeling and twisting my leg. I dust myself down and keep saying to myself ‘deposit’.

I’ve still got one leg on it when I realise that this is my lack of confidence which is getting in the way. Instead of giving up, I tell myself I can do it. This relaxes me and forces my stance to become more natural. We start the tour, me at the back. I smile at Margaret as we speed up and down the kerbs with the wind in our hair – this is great. Because you are about 12 inches off the ground you really do gain a different perspective of this magnificent city.

We pass the Eiffel Tower again and I discover that I am beaming. It’s possible to reach speeds of over 12mph, simply by leaning forward.

First stop on the tour is the Champ de Mars. Moving forward is easy, stopping and getting off takes a bit more practice. But we all successfully manage it. Seth reminds us about the Champ de Mars - the setting of the Fête de la Fédération – the setting for first anniversary celebration of the storming of the Bastille, on the 14 July 1790 and also the setting of a massacre the following year when a crowd collected to draft a petition seeking the removal of King Louis XVI.

On to the Ecole Militaire and armoury and around to Eglise du Dome, the resting place of Napoleon. Seth says there is enough gold on the Dome to make us all millionaires several times over.
‘I love the fact that Napoleon had his coffin placed so those coming to pay their respects to the emperor had to lean over as though they are bowing to see his tomb,’ he adds.
We race down the Seine to the Pont Alexandre III – the stunning arch bridge connecting the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower quarter - my favourite bridge in Paris.
The gold guild bridge, complete with Art Nouveau lamps, was built between 1896 and 1900 to commemorate the Franco-Russian Alliance.
As well as making many film and television appearances, Anastasia, Ronin and The Sopranos to name a few, the bridge is also a favourite spot for lovers to embrace. ‘Why don’t we carry on the tradition,’ says Seth.

By now, we’re feeling much more confident, and I realise that steering has become almost intuitive.
But disaster almost strikes as over confidence takes over and an emergency stop is required to avoid a pile up. Just a reminder that you have to concentrate all the time when you ride a Segway.

We move on to the opulent architectural splendour of the Lovre and learn more about Paris bloody and turbulent history. Then it is back along the breathtaking Place de la Concord before a last play at the Eiffel Tower racing the kids on rollerbades.
We can’t believe our two hour tour is over already. Excitement, thrills and thank goodness no spills. Segways are a great experience for all age groups and what better place to try it than Paris.

Telephone: 01-56-58-10-54 (calling from within France)
+33-1-56-58-10-54 (calling from outside of France)
Address: City Segway Tours
24, rue Edgar Faure
75015 Paris