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Archive For 'May, 2012'

Friday ramble – The day the Olympic torch came to Stroud

25 May 2012 at 11:06

This Friday ramble should be re-named the Friday gush…as I intend to gush on about how fantastic this week has been for my hometown of Stroud.


What happened? Do I need to say… the Olympic torch came to Stroud! And, personally, I think it was the event of the year so far.


Crowds flock to Stroud for Olympic Torch RelayNow, I knew that there would be crowds and was prepared for that. What I didn’t bank on was the Olympic torch ‘feeling’ that gripped every person I saw, from small toddlers to the elderly.


You could tell from their excited, expectant faces that they were totally engrossed in this historic event, with many of them waiting hours in hot sunshine *yes, the sun came out too* for just a short look at the flame that had travelled to our market town from Greece.

Crowds flock to Stroud for Olympic Torch Relay

Thousands of people from our beautiful Cotswold town and the valleys surrounding it congregated in Stroud and came together for this event. The community spirit was overwhelming.


As we were waiting for the flame to come, people were running up and down the streets to cheers from the crowd, there were acrobatics in Rowcroft, dancing at the Brewery Bridge and general merriment wherever you went. It was a sight to behold.


Crowds flock to Stroud for Olympic Torch Relay



And then the torch cameAnd then the torch came and I saw faces light up, spurred on by the Olympic torch convoy of cars, coaches and ice cream vans. ‘Where is it? Can you see it?’ were the shouts. And then – like Aphrodite from the waves – it appeared. The Flame. In all its splendour, burning strong from a golden torch…and people went silent. Flash bulbs going off, camera phones held high trying to capture an historical moment forever. ‘I saw it mummy, I saw the flame’. Tears flowed.


And then it was gone, but the Stroud community spirit lived on. With crowds of people - a swarm - following the torch to Beeches Green, where it was transferred safely to its lantern. The celebration continued, for many, into the night with a host of BBQs, parties and local beer gardens buzzing with customers.And then it was gone




Since then there has been an ongoing conversation happening in Stroud circles about how we can get this community togetherness happening again. Many have likened what happened on Wednesday to the old ‘Stroud Show’ days.


Back in those days, we had a yearly carnival where a procession of floats designed by community groups, charities etc. would convoy through the town to Stratford Park where, on the fields, there would be music, food, fun fairs, craft stalls, candy floss, dancing and so much more. It was the highlight of the year, the place to be seen.


Granted, we have our yearly country show, but my feeling is that community support for this has waned over the years. We need to get that carnival feeling back… the people want it. Let’s come together to make it happen.


Over and out…

Tags: Olympics | Olympic Torch Relay | #glostorchrelay | stroud | London 2012 | community event |

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Friday ramble - How valuable is paid-for editorial

18 May 2012 at 14:57

I was contacted earlier this week by a Scottish national newspaper that was looking for advice on paid-for online content.Paid-for editorial


The man said that, as they are a paper that is based in the north, they don’t really have a good scope on what is going on with PR agencies ‘down south’. He said they’d been contacted by numerous PR agencies from the south (that’s every agency from Scotch Corner downwards) who wanted to pay for their press releases to go onto this particular paper’s website. So basically: ‘paid-for editorial’.


He wanted to know whether this was common practice for PR agencies ‘down south’. My response… ‘Um, NO, well not for those that really understand their craft anyway’.


He said that one particular PR agency – London-based as you would have it – never send editorial for the consideration of editorial sections of the paper or website. He said that they only ever sent content which they knew they had to pay for. And he said that this was common practice from a lot of agencies ‘down south’.


Now I smell something fishy here. My reckoning is that said London agency has guaranteed their client coverage in this Scottish newspaper and – as the stories they are creating aren’t strong or relevant enough – they have to pay for them to appear. Is the client aware of this, or is the agency passing the coverage off as true editorial? If so, where is the money coming from to pay for the coverage?


It is true that there is a time and a place for paid-for content, advertorials, sponsored columns etc. And we all know that some trade magazines operate on a colour separation model. But when it comes to national newspapers, their value is in their editorial integrity. Surely allowing people to pay for their news stories to appear undermines this. And PR agencies that pay to secure coverage – rather than finding ways to create truly newsworthy stories – are undermining themselves and their clients’ brands.


So, I asked my caller whether the commercial editorial section he was referring to on their website had a particularly high ‘unique user’ figure and what the conversion rates for stories that appeared on the page were like. How much traffic was being sent to specific links in the stories and, from a PR point of view, what the agencies were reporting from the client end? In essence, how many of his readers were actually engaging with the content – or even reading it… he didn’t have the answers.


What he did say was: ‘wouldn’t the fact that we had their story on our site mean that they would immediately climb the pages of Google and therefore improve their SEO?’


I spoke to Paul Locke from Epicado Web Marketing – a company we work with a lot – about this, and he said:


“A truly genuine link from a national newspaper would undoubtedly be regarded by Google as a good thing. Google gives higher value to links from well-known and trusted brands. The question is whether Google would regard this type of link as truly genuine or a ‘paid for’ link – it usually penalises sites that sell links but there’s some evidence that it’s less than even-handed in the way that it applies this policy. If you’re a big brand, it seems that Google is more forgiving. Google has recently made some very significant changes to the way that it evaluates websites for ranking in its search results. In the past, if you acquired lots of links from low value blogs, forums and directories, hey presto, you could rank very well. Google now places more emphasis on good quality links and on the extent to which your website’s content is shared by real people via their social media accounts.


“In other words, if Google sees that a national newspaper that it trusts is sending a link to your website from a genuine piece of editorial, it’s likely to give that more value than 100 links from a blog that nobody reads. Similarly, if it detects lots of ‘buzz’ around your website content, it will reward you. There are more than 200 ranking factors in the Google algorithm so it’s not quite as simple as that – but the main point is that businesses which can generate genuine interest in their content will do well.”


And so, we come full circle… for paid-for content to really have any impact or value, it needs to be of genuine interest to readers. And if it is of interest to readers, it will be of interest to journalists, which means it should be able to stand up as pure-play editorial, rather than paid-for content.


I feel very strongly that PR agencies have to be honest with both potential and existing clients. Whether pitching for new work or providing advice to retained clients on a day-to-day basis, we need to be clear about which angles and topics will truly interest readers and journalists.


When the route to media coverage relies solely upon paid-for editorial, something is seriously wrong. As consultants, it’s our job to consult rather than just churn out press releases – paid-for or otherwise.


Tell me what you think? I’d be really keen to hear your thoughts on this.


Over and out…





Tags: public relations | pr | press releases | paid for content | editorial |

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Turtle Mat to show at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

16 May 2012 at 09:22

Turtle Mat, creators of the original machine washable, dirt trapping doormat, will be at RHS Chelsea Flower Show with a stand-alone exhibit for the first time this year showcasing the ‘best of British’ design.Turtle Mat's brand new Heritage Peony design


The Turtle Mat stand will take on a fresh and colourful theme with a palette of zingy yellow, purple and white shades inspired by the gardens and Cotswold landscape where the business is based. A potting shed and trellising add to the country cottage feel and the use of yellows reflect the local fields of gold from spring through to summer. The walls of the stand will be clad in Turtle Mat's stunning design ranges - many with a floral theme.


With 2012 set to be a very ‘British’ year, and as excitement grows over Jubilee and

Royal themed products, the stand will showcase a selection of new mat designs from their British themed collections with Imperial War Museum (IWM) and Union Flag ranges, as well as more classic designs from the Historic Royal Palaces and Royal Horticultural Society collections.


The company is looking forward to being a part of one of the most iconic and quintessentially English summer shows where it can showcase the unique British flavour that the brand offers to both customers and retailers. And, in this celebratory year, they will unveil the latest RHS design, Heritage Peony, inspired by a vintage seed catalogue held within the RHS’s Lindley Library archive.


The mat comes in a colour way of pinks and peaches on a soft green background and will retail at £49.95.


Commercial Director Susan Leaver says: “The RHS always provides a wonderful resource of inspirational material giving us the opportunity to develop truly unique designs. We have partnered with the RHS for over five years and have been delighted with the success of the collection. Chelsea gives us the platform to not only showcase the product but to meet with customers and we are really looking forward to the event. The Turtle Mat stand will be located at site WA12 (Western Avenue).



For further information visit or call 01285 772650

Press release issued by Trailblazer PR. For further information please contact
Polly Field


Ends                                                                      09 May 2012

Tags: Turtle Mat | RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 | doormat | door mat | dirt trapping door mat | floor runner |

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London breakups lead to nine-friend loss

15 May 2012 at 12:40

People in London ending a long-term relationship lose an average of nine friends, a new study reveals.


Researchers also found that 46 per cent of people in London felt isolated after a breakup, regardless of how supportive their remaining friends and family were. Twenty six per cent actually admitted to staying in a relationship longer than they really wanted to, worried about the effect that breaking up would have on mutual friendships.


In fact, the study shows it is not only mutual friendships that suffer following the end of a long-term relationship. Of the nine friends lost on average, three were people known from before the relationship.


Chad Schofield, Founder of, which commissioned the report, says even when relationships end amicably it can have an impact on friendships. He explains: “It isn’t always about friends actively siding with one person or another - it can be much more subtle than that. In London, 91 per cent of people reported that feelings of ‘awkwardness’ played a major part in friends simply drifting away.”


The full national study involved a total of 2,000 men and women of all ages who have recently split from a long-term partner. Further findings indicated that 32 per cent of people in London have some regrets about their relationship coming to an end because of the effect it has had on friendships. 


Four out of ten respondents said that, on the whole, friends were very supportive after their breakup. However, 46 per cent felt that unless somebody was actively going through a similar situation they could not understand how it felt.


“It comes down to the difference between sympathy and empathy,” Chad Schofield continues. “No matter how supportive friends and family are, they can’t wave a magic wand to make the painful feelings of loneliness and isolation go away. In fact, inviting you to dinner or encouraging you to socialise before you are ready can simply reinforce the fact that you now have to do things alone. At, we find most people say it is really helpful to connect and interact with others who are in a similar circumstance to themselves. It’s not really about how well people know you, but about how well they understand what you are going through. They can also advise on avoiding potential pitfalls that you may not have thought of – such as joint bank accounts being frozen or the expense of legal representation.” is a free-to-use, discreet and impartial online support network for people who have lost a long-term partner. It provides access to services, articles and forums tailored for people who are newly single or anticipating closure of their relationship.


Ends                                                                                          15 May 2012


For further media information or images, please contact Mary Hamblyn at Trailblazer PR on 01453 887 777 or 07748 848 768 Email:


Tags: HealBee | relationships | divorce | single | research | friends | break up

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Friday ramble - Regional PR agencies: We’re not all wellie boots and cheese rolling you know!

11 May 2012 at 12:41

Wellie boot wearers do it betterOn Wednesday I read with interest a story which had been published in The Guardian titled ‘London PR agencies – do you know where you’re coming from?’


In essence the feature was asking the question ‘are London agencies best placed to get regional arts venues the profile they need?’ The feature talks about the positives and negatives of using London PR agencies for guaranteed *scratches head* (I think guaranteed coverage is called an advert or advertorial?!) national media coverage.


Although the feature highlights many interesting points, there is one vital thing that has been missed and, as a regional agency head, I have to comment on it. Here it is, get ready, and hold the front page… You don’t have to employ a London agency to achieve national media coverage for an event, product or new service launch… Who knew? Well, many of us working hard to grow our regional PR agencies do actually.


The feature insinuated that to ‘guarantee’ (see above comment) coverage  regional arts organisations were engaging with London agencies as ‘London PR agencies tend to have better personal relationships with national journalists and writers – it's a matter of proximity’.


C’mon now, you’re doing us regional PR people a bit of a disservice here. Insinuating that just because someone is based in London means that by nature they’d have a better relationship with a journalist due to their proximity is like saying a higher percentage of people living in close proximity to a brewery will drink beer – I think what you’ll find is that it’s a matter of taste! Or, from a PR point of view, knowing the difference between a story that will sell and one that won’t.


Many of us wellie wearing country folk have spent years working on our relationships with journalists and the fact that were not based in London makes not one iota of difference.


I don’t need to tell you that the media landscape has changed – or, due to some of the comments in this story, maybe I do?


Yes, of course PRs and Journalists still like to go out and socialise together but times are a lot tougher than they used to be. With the rise of online and social media and the fall of print circulation numbers, many journalists just don’t have the luxury of time to be able to ‘socialise’ in the ways that they once did.


Believe me many of them, on a day-to-day basis, are too busy juggling increased workload with decreased in house support while meeting their deadlines. Add to the mix online and social media responsibilities and, for icing, having to think commercially and you might get the picture.


So where lunches and evening drinks were once the cornerstone of creating and maintaining relationships, things have changed.  More and more relationships are formed and maintained in the ether – using emails, telephone, social networks etc.


Over the 8 years we have been in business, and for the time before that when I was working at other regional PR agencies, I can honestly say that I never once came across us ‘not being based in London’ as a barrier for getting a story into the press.


At the end of the day, if the story is strong enough in terms of news or interest for a specific page and you have targeted it at the right journalist in the manner, at the right time, with the right spokesperson etc it will be picked up. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting at a desk pitching it from Soho or Scunthorpe!


Too many fantastic regional agencies are still suffering – or being omitted from pitch lists - from this frankly out of date opinion that to get national coverage, the agency needs to be based in London. Just look at some of us. Ask us when the last piece of national coverage we generated was and I bet you that it will have been in the past week. It’s not all wellie boots and cheese rolling out here you know….


Over and out… 

Tags: public relations | PR | media coverage |

Posted in Friday Rambles | 1 Comments »

Friday ramble - The 'people's Olympics' - I think not!

04 May 2012 at 13:36


Who has tickets to the Olympics then? No, not a lot of you I can imagine.Supporting picture not used due to silly marketing guidelines


We managed to snare ourselves 4 tickets to Super Saturday on 11th August, the day when a lot of the finals are on. Yes, we feel lucky and I am happy that some of my children will get the chance to see some of the World’s finest athletes up close and personal (well, not so personal). But I’m annoyed and here’s why…


Last week I tweeted a really interesting article that had been written by Mark Ritzon, a journalist from leading industry title ‘Marketing Week’, titled ‘No Gold for Locog’s brand management’. I read the article with my head nodding, mouthing ‘yes, exactly’ and post reading the article, sent it online to everyone I knew.


Over the past few months in particular many of our clients, especially smaller local and regional ones, have wanted to somehow get involved in the Olympics buzz. We have the Olympic torch passing through Stroud on 23rd May and, let me tell you something, this is a big thing for our town! It’s a reason for people of all walks of life from the five valleys to come together and celebrate what, for many, will be the start of the build up to this once in a lifetime event being held in our country.


Here’s how pathetic it has become. One of our clients is based very near to where the torch will be passing and, to give something back to the community, they wanted to hire an ice cream van and give away ice creams to members of the public. Having looked at Locog’s marketing guidelines this, this small thing, is classed as ambush marketing and therefore – if deemed inappropriate – could potentially lead to a hefty fine! An ice cream van, parked in a private car park, giving away ice creams… to the public! C’,mon… I mean they weren’t talking about painting the rings on the side of it. It was just an ice cream van…


As Mark says in his feature ‘this was meant to be the people’s games’, but my feeling is its not. If it was then I believe that more normal/everyday people would be further engaged with it. For me on a personal level, I want to hear about more events that are going on in my locality, I want to hear about quirky products and services that have been launched to celebrate this occasion, I want to go into my town and take part in sports events that have been put on purely for fun… I’m not hearing about these, and why not? Well the answer to that lies with Locog and their over the top restrictions when it comes to marketing.


Oh of course the main sponsors are all over this like a rash – whether the target audience associates them with the games or not (again, refer to Mark’s feature for information on this). And they’ve paid millions of £’s to be associated with the, so I appreciate that they want to keep the marketing buzz for themselves.


But it’s about more than that for me. Were in a recession and, even more then ever, our high street shops – independents especially – and small businesses need all the help they can get to keep afloat and stimulate growth. The way I see it, if handled correctly, this could have been a really great platform for our high street, and smaller businesses, to connect with a world-wide event and potential customers through initiatives that would have generated more passion about the games – a win / win situation surely?!


But no, their hands have been tied yet again and it’s an opportunity missed.


Thanks Locog. Thanks for stopping small market towns like Stroud help you to make this event a success in valley, town and shire.


I’m sure I’m not alone and that these thoughts are being echoed across the UK – let me know what you think?


Over and out…






Tags: olympics | marketing | pr | high street | small business | stroud | locog | olympics | marketing | pr | high street | small business | stroud | locog

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