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Archive For 'April, 2012'

The end goal...

27 April 2012 at 10:28

London bound

As you all know, since the beginning of the year I have been training for running the London marathon. It’s been tough, as I explained in last week’s Friday ramble, but in the end I completed the marathon.


While I was training for this race I would often find myself comparing my race preparation to my business. Let me explain.


When you embark on any kind of training, there's always a goal in mind. If you're a runner, it’s a race: be it a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon - whatever. If you're a cyclist it might be a sprint or endurance race, a darts player - a tournament. Whatever it is, normally, before you embark - you set yourself a goal. Something to aim for, something to focus on. Isn't it the same for those of us who have set up a business? In those times when we'd get home from a hard day at the office, working for someone else, wishing we were somewhere else. 'If only I was master of my own destiny!', 'If only I ran my own business things would be different'. For me, my goal in those early days was to start a PR agency that would be one of the, if not THE, best PR agency in Gloucestershire. I had a goal, a vision, I knew what I wanted my agency to look like, the kind of people I wanted as consultants, the kind of people I wanted as clients. Having that goal gave me something to focus on and it set me on my way.


Then there's the training. I undertook 16 weeks of training to get to marathon day and every week I learnt something new about myself, my mind and my body. Hold your head higher, it'll make your running posture better, sip water rather than inhale it like an elephant, your stomach will feel better. Stop looking at your Garmin so much, it'll make the miles go faster. The same can be said for business, although in that case for me the training is ongoing - I learn new things about my profession, my business, my customers etc every day and the more I learn the more honed and 'fit' I feel my business gets. They say that PR can't be measured…piddle, say I! I'm constantly looking for new ways to evaluate the PR campaigns that we execute. Working with clients to really understand how to justify PR spend to the board or re-educate in terms of how PR fits into the overall marketing mix (and why marketing is so intrinsic to business). I'm constantly reading, going to seminars, speaking to others in my profession at how to best service our customers for 'the good of the industry'. For me, it’s imperative to take time to continue to train - or develop - the business and myself as a business manager this way.


I've been injured at some points during my training. Yes, it’s got me down and made me think 'why am I doing this?' But then I remember the end goal - as described above - and I dust off my trainers, seek help to fix my injury and get on the road again. Same applies to business. We've all had to deal with knocks, projects that haven't come off the way we'd hoped, clients and members of staff who haven't conducted themselves the way we'd hoped. Issues with payment etc. But we try and work through these, get professional advice and seek to fix problems (or part company in the most amicable way). We see the injury, tend to it and move forwards towards the goal.


And then there's the end goal. The Holy Grail. The race. Getting that medal on Sunday was one of the best moments of my life. Holding it in my hand and knowing that I'd done it. WOW, what a feeling.


But for me the business goal is still to be realised. Oh believe me, it will be realised but there's more training to be done, more miles to be covered. And I'm sure a few more injuries to suffer! But I know deep in my heart that I’ll reach the business end goal! I’m well on my way there and have big plans for the forthcoming months\years. I wonder what it'll feel like when I get there?!


So what are your business goals? Share them with us on here and let's work together to realise them!


Over and out... 

Tags: business | running | marathon | public relations

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

I'm alive...

26 April 2012 at 11:21

Virgin London Marathon Finishers Medal

I have now stopped walking like a cowboy with piles and, finally, think that I am back in the land of the living.


On Sunday I completed the Virgin London Marathon in 4.23.11 and it took all I had to get round in that time I tell you. This was one of the hardest races – if not the hardest – that I have ever taken part in.


I hit the wall in a big way at mile 18 and stayed firmly glued to it until mile 23. At that stage the crowd support was so immense that it carried me through the final 3.2 miles.


That’s all I can say for now as, to be honest, I am still taking it all in. I keep looking at my medal and can’t believe that I have actually completed this famous race.


On a more sombre note, my heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family and friends of fellow runner Claire Squires who unfortunately died one mile from the end of the course. Claire was a fundraiser and had taken on various challenges, this being her latest one. She was running for the Samaritans and, since her passing, her Just Giving page total stands at £737,000 + Please give what you can and honour the memory of Claire 


Thank you for all your support x 

Tags: running | virgin london marathon | motivation | claire squires |

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HealBee - a heal-ing hand

25 April 2012 at 09:02

A heal-ing hand


There are so many websites and online communities out there that sometimes it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Well, the other day I met a Stroud-based entrepreneur who has just launched a website that is aimed at people who are newly single (due to a variety of reasons).


The site is called HealBee and its aim is to provide direct links to bespoke services that people may be looking for when they are single again. It also provides access to a members’ area where you can talk to other people in the same boat and read interesting articles from site users about their own ‘journey’.  It’s new, so granted there aren’t a lot of people on there right now, but I think that this will change in the next few months. One to watch… 


UPDATED - 01.05.12: HealBee comissioned some market research which is leading to some good media coverage


HealBee - Telegraph 








Tags: HealBee; single; divorced; bereavement; advice; support; online community; shopping

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Friday ramble - I'm London Marathon Bound

20 April 2012 at 11:31

Virgin London Marathon 2012

After 16 weeks of dedicated training in the ice, snow, rain, wind and – sometimes – sunshine, the big day is almost here.


I am running the London Marathon on Sunday and I have to say I am a mixture of emotions right now. I’ve never run this 26.2 mile race before but it’s been on my bucket list ever since I donned a pair of old trainers 3 years ago and walked/ran my first mile.


In brief, my running story to date is that after giving birth to my fourth child, I was seriously overweight. I was too embarrassed to visit the gym as I thought people would point and stare (they don’t by the way!) I HATED running and could never manage more than 5 minutes on the treadmill at the gym. But in my heart I knew that something had to be done about my cuddly bits! So one balmy summers evening I set off with my sister-in-law and a friend who were also interested in ‘getting into running’.


My oh my…what a sight I must have been. I thought I was having an asthma attack 200 metres in. The movement I was performing wasn’t even really a run – more of a shuffle. I can remember doing a pretty special walk/run to the half mile mark and, thank goodness, at 800m found a railing to lean/slowly slide down.


I can remember that a friend who was passing in his car beeped and waved, I however couldn’t even lift my arm to wave back as it seemed to be weighed down by small running demons who were trying to pull me to the ground in submission (this friend has since said that, on that particular day, I looked like I was breathing out of my derriere!).


However from somewhere I managed to find the strength to run/walk the half mile back home and literally fell in the back door. I can remember thinking to myself ‘never again’ but, after about 4 days of the DOMS, I thought – ‘OK, c’mon Sabrina lets try again’.


As I said, that was almost three years ago and since then I have found this love/obsession for road and off road running.


I can’t put my finger on exactly why I love this sport. Is it the change that I have seen in my body, the strength that I feel when doing the ‘long weekend run’, the feeling of my fitness improving, the friends I have made, the fact that although I have lived in Stroud for more than 20 years, I have seen more of our beautiful countryside in the last 3 years than all of the time previous to that, is it the feeling that, due to getting better at running every month *small steps*, that I’m so elated when I knock even seconds off my previous 5K, 10K and ½ marathon PBs… to be honest it’s a mixture of those things. But I do LOVE it so much and I’ve now become such an advocate of this sport.


I have become a member of a local athletics club that gives me the encouragement and motivation I need to keep going even when I’m not having such a good time (we all have periods of doubt!) and have a loving husband and family who support me in my training and at races – all of which are so important I think.


I feel very privileged and excited to be running this famous race on Sunday. To line up with thousands of people who will be participating for many different reasons. Us runners from all over the world who have shared the experience of training for months for this one race, to accomplish this one goal. I doff my cap to you all and look forward to meeting some of you throughout the 26.2 miles.


And when times get tough I will repeat silently to myself ‘the pain is temporary but the beauty remains’.


Over and out… Sabrina

Tags: london marathon 2012 | running | motivation | road race | fitness | health | body image

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

Corporate video? A monkey could make one.

19 April 2012 at 11:12

A little lateral thinking can go a long way it comes to corporate videos.

When I (Mary) was looking for something to occupy a monkey-mad toddler recently, I came across this little gem produced by Longleat.

It’s such a simple idea, but so effective. It actively engages the target audience (my little monkey must have watched it ten times back-to-back). And it persuaded me to make the two-hour journey from East Gloucestershire with a toddler in tow, which is no mean feat.

The rest of the website content is pretty good too. We followed the ‘planning your day’ advice, leaving the safari drive till the afternoon and visiting the other attractions in the morning. This meant we didn’t hit a single queue and pretty much had the monkey drive-thru to ourselves. We also saved 15 per cent on the ticket price by booking online.

So, a good online experience followed by a great experience on the day equals one happy family that will definitely be back in the near future. Ten out of ten, Longleat.

Tags: corporate videos | lateral thinking | target audience | engaging | Gloucestershire | Longleat | web content

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Friday ramble… What’s in a name?

13 April 2012 at 12:43

One Direction

Over the past few days the whole One Direction name issue has come to light. Apparently, there is a US band, also called One Direction, that has come out of the woodwork and is now taking Simon Cowell and the One Direction (or 1D / Stud muffins as my teenage daughter calls them!) to court in the US over the name.

Now, I have a few thoughts on this. Firstly: GREAT PR for you US boys. I am imagining – although don’t quote me on it – that you have not been a top selling US billboard band, or won an armful of Grammies? Well, if so, I certainly haven’t heard of you.

All this media coverage is certainly going to get your name out there and who better to get into a game of verbal ping pong than Mr Music himself – you know he loves those 1D boys and would do anything for them *kerching* I think, as I’m sure you do, that you’ll get a few more fans to your gigs, sales of your records and – who knows – young girls might mistake you for the UK 1D stud muffins and flock to your gigs… its all about the fan conversion boys! Surely you can rock up ‘what makes you beautiful’?! This flurry of media interest has been handed to you on a plate, digest it well and it could result in a whole host of opportunities for you. I’d definitely be doing the same thing if I was in your place… *high five*

But, Mr Cowell, really? Isn’t this the second time that you’ve had an issue with an X Factor band? Didn’t Tulisa have to change the name of Rhythmix to Little Mix last year due to a music charity threatening to sue?

Surely, one would imagine that Mr Cowell surrounds himself with semi-intelligent people? And surely, before giving bands names, they’d do some research so that this ‘trading off’ situation didn’t occur…isn’t there some kind of worldwide band name register and, if not, why not?

I had a situation vaguely similar to this when I first set up Trailblazer. I checked online, via my main trade body and through Companies House that no other UK company had the same name as I then did – they didn’t! I then set up the company and was trading well for a few years and then, by luck, won a huge account which generated a lot of trade coverage. One grey Friday morning I received an email which basically said ‘change your name, or else!’ *leave me alone scary national PR company director* Now, I knew that I had done the right research and that, if taken to court, I’d have a strong case, but as I was still a young company I decided I couldn’t afford it and that my clients could cope with a name change. I then came up with the name Trailblazer PR which was much better – so HA! But it made me think then, as it does now, we invest so much in the marketing of our names, our brands. So, just like One Direction (US), how far would you go for yours?!


Over and out…. 

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

Freelance consumer media relations expert wanted!

10 April 2012 at 17:47

We're on the hunt for a fantastic freelance consumer media relations expert to join our award winning team.

Ideally you'll be based in Gloucestershire and have spent your PR career liaising with journalists that work on both traditional and online media. You'll be strategic, yet creative. Hard working, yet fun. And - most importantly - you get a real buzz from generating coverage opportunities for your clients.

We've just landed some really exciting PR accounts so, if you think you've got what it takes, get in touch

Tags: pr | public relations | freelance pr | media relations | job | gloucestershire

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What makes a good communicator great

05 April 2012 at 13:19

Look up ‘communicate’ in the Oxford English Dictionary, and you will see the following definitions:

1.    share or exchange information, news or ideas

2.    succeed in conveying one’s ideas or in evoking understanding in others

Stroud Life’s Communicator of the Year Award seeks to recognise and celebrate organisations that are using innovative and exciting ways to communicate with people.

Those people might be your customers, your staff or your neighbours. They might be students, shareholders or potential investors.

Perhaps you have a high-street shop and use your window and storefront to capture the attention of passers-by. Or maybe you have a lively and engaging Twitter account that you use to build better relationships with your customers. You might even have a full-scale PR and marketing strategy generating heaps of relevant media coverage and generating new business leads.

It doesn’t matter who you communicate with or how you do it, as long as it is interesting – and effective.

As the UK struggles to pull itself out of the economic crisis, good communications are more important than ever for regional businesses. It is one of the most effective ways to enhance reputation and build better relationships with customers old and new alike.

And the beauty of communications as a business tool is that it doesn’t have to involve mega-bucks. A simple, well-executed good idea can be all it takes to achieve standout and win customers. Some of the most innovative and successful communications activity I have seen has come from smaller businesses operating on a shoestring budget. Owner-managed organisations are often much more intuitive and fleet of foot when it comes to identifying and seizing opportunities to communicate with customers, investors or other audiences.

We live in such an exciting time for communications. The past decade has seen the rise of new possibilities, particularly with the explosion of social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. The opportunities are endless and I am sure that many businesses in Stroud are using innovative and clever ways to communicate with their audiences.

If you’re passionate about how you communicate with people, Stroud Life would love to hear about it – and you could be a contender for Stroud’s Communicator of the Year.

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Proud of Stroud!

02 April 2012 at 11:17

Proud of Stroud!

Last week I (Sabrina) was asked to take part in Stroud's Portas Pilot bid.

Mary PortasTo support the application, which was submitted last friday, each town had to submit a three minute video. And here it is..

I really hope that Stroud gets some of this funding as I truly believe that lots of great work could be done with it. Work which would, and could, truly breathe new life into our high street.

Already, so much goodwill has been shown to Carole Garfield - Chair of Stroud Chamber of Trade and Commerce - while she has been doing the background work needed in order to put in the bid. All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed that the bid impresses the powers that be!

PMA Stroud... If we believe it, it will happen.

Tags: stroud | mary portas | portas pilot | retail | stroud chamber of commerce | sabrina pace-humphreys

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