Free Press for Sponsors

Having enjoyed my work with social and community based project Bude for Food so much last week, I have some big plans for events unfolding in 2015, as do the committee for the event.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Cornwall annually for its breathtaking beaches, stunning sunsets, and a pace of life that is unmistakably relaxed. Whilst our tin mines now sit redundant; creating striking images against the backdrop of the sea, many forget the horrifying past of the hazardous conditions workers, who were often children, had to work in.

In Cornwall, poverty is still an issue, and festivals such as Bude for Food help to pull together communities to create training and employment opportunities for the people living in the area. Having been a teacher in Cornwall, I am aware of the ways in which some families are disadvantaged and have ideas about how best to support them. 2015 will see some exciting events in Falmouth.

Social workers in Cornwall work tirelessly to provide support to and empower some such families, often working well over the required hours and having had to face cuts and salary freezing over the last few years. Two social workers from Cornwall are planning to use their holiday to visit Ghana, West Afriaca, and deliver vital support to children subject to trafficking.

Whilst many children are still being exposed to the dangers of mining labour, from the age of 6 above ground and 12 below, this is happening overseas and so we are often unaware of it. Girls as young as 10 are sold into prostitution, where they are often subject to vengeful sexual violence and regular beating. They then have to endure a lifelong social stigma when they are outcast once they reach maturity.

Sadly, social work is not something that is commonly practised with individuals who appear to be physically fit, but these children are in urgent need of psychological support and social work input. Lisa and Karen plan to visit Ghana in February 2015; joining Projects Abroad to volunteer for 3 weeks. Using their skills as social workers, they will help enhance the limited support available to these children and their local communities. Intending to contribute significant savings of their own, advisors from the organisation suggested raising some funds through pledges.

The women’s time will be spent supporting children to  increase literacy and numeracy; many do not complete schooling and are therefore illiterate. Their work will also promote early childhood development;  improve hygiene levels; and  increase emotional support and care to the children. Lisa said, “I know we can make a small difference; the continued aid work contributed to children like those in Ghana will change their lives. We’re grateful for any donations to raise support for this cause.”

I have contributed a donation but being a young company, I am offering to share my skills and time to help promote the campaign on the ladies’ behalf. I will write and issue a free press release for any companies wishing to donate to this essential aid work and help Lisa and Karen along the way. Any additional funds raised will allow the women to take extra resources, leaving a legacy to promote independence and freedom from slavery.

To make a donation to this cause and get your free press release, please visit http://www.myprojectsabroad.org/fundraising/WQDqZm or http://www.myprojectsabroad.org/fundraising/4yEgl4 and contact laura@palavermaven.co.uk

How Cornish businesses can use words to sell

One of the things I feared about starting a career in writing web copy and telling brands’ stories was losing my passion for words.

Would using my words to sell things devalue them? Or worse still deplete my creativity?

From distilling dense corporate jargon to breathing blushing bows of colour into branding, being surrounded by the evolving waters and erratic coastlines of Cornwall has served only to refresh and nourish my love of language.

As enriched by its chattering flotilla of creatives: web designers to wordsmiths and caterers to crafters, as by its omniscient trove of waters; Cornwall’s unique aesthetic weaves its way to the fore of Cornish businesses. Websites let the sibilant sea sell concepts, whilst restaurants harness the power of provenance: interpreting the oceanic clefts with a chorus of culinary creativity.

A rhyme of tides weaves its tendrils within the words we use and wrenches the hearts of visitors and prospects alike. Our peninsula’s unique landscape: from the craggy cliffs of the northern coastline, to the bare high points of Roughtor and from the prominent gorse at Geevor the humming of hoof and horn around Helston; is what makes Cornwall unique. Over summer, cutthroat heat sears coastline imagery into the glean of original enterprises; the creators, world-shapers and innovators. At night a bruised sky overshadows inky water and just as quickly a rosy dawn rolls across the sky; a divine set change as morning breaks.

And it’s this unparalleled, transient backdrop that enkindles innovation; influences intense creativity. Change is constant.

Raised by the rains and shattered by storms, Cornwall constantly evolves because it has to. With this evolution comes new ideas, fresh ways of looking at things and a unique set of bespoke businesses showing what the county has to offer.

Cornwall’s nautical litany is what sets it apart from anywhere else.

Whilst many local businesses harness the magnetic lure of seascapes to captivate clients, you should pay attention to the parlance of the ocean too. Forging relationships starts with telling stories, and bathed in briny barnacles; our seas secrete scores of those.

From winter windswept shores, as ragged and withered as an acrimonious break-up; to succulent plant life providing sweet relief from the southerly sun in July, the fathoms of water hold indigenous species and unspoken tales. Structuring a narrative to represent this beauty, balanced with the bleak; the slow silence, stark against the singing skreigh; is what tugs on tourists’ hearts and draws attention to this land. And it can be used to highlight your brand too.

Choosing the right words makes people care about your product, your ethos. Telling stories evokes emotion and this emotion is what finally makes people choose you. Undeniably unique, and often utopian, images catch prospects’ eyes, but it’s the words that hold them there.

Make your words matter and you will matter too.

I offer bespoke press management campaigns and branding consultations, plus a range of other writing services to give your brand a unique tone. To chat about anything from seafood to strategy, contact me today.

Why I love meeting clients in person

Being seated in an atmospheric dining room to begin a 7 course tasting menu offering creations such as A Burnt Forest Floor and Strawberry Salad is not an average Tuesday night.

And The Rummer in Bristol is not the average hotel. In fact, it’s currently not a hotel in anything but name. But that’s all due to change next year.

A well planned cocktail menu alone was enough to awaken my senses, after a long week of wrestling with words and meeting journalists. Having written a press release for The Rummer a few weeks ago, I wanted to strengthen my relationship with Brett; the owner, and meet the chef, Andrew, in person. The changes taking place in the near future of the hotel mean that we are likely to work together again and to produce my best work, I like to care about you.

As a writer, I’m happy to work on ghostwritten corporate campaigns because it challenges my ability to make something dull sound interesting. However, one of the things I consider important when working with small businesses is getting to really know what they’re about. Everything from the ambiance to the ethos is what has shaped your idea and I feel I can represent this best by meeting up and being a human face! This also benefits you too; you can see who you’re buying from and work out if we make a good fit.

It wasn’t a difficult decision to go and visit the award winning bar and restaurant, since their tasting menu sounded divine and chef’s focus on provenance and presenting ingredients in their different guises attracted me to The Rummer in the first instance.

A tasting menu is like a journey, and along with the cocktails, this was one exciting ride. Revelling in the ambient glow of the low lighting and gaining a perspective of the enormous fireplace in the upstairs bar; even washing my hands in the antique porcelain sink allowed me to ‘feel’ The Rummer. Tasting the food, as Andrew intended it, in course after course of perfectly executed miniature meals: big on flavour and with pronounced playfulness allows me the luxury of choosing words that fit, from real experience.

The internet offers many writers who can craft stories about their clients, and often they do so evocatively. With extensive research and consultations, I have written copy for clients from Singapore and Japan, whilst hiding in the mountains of Spain.

But wherever possible, I love to reach out to local businesses and build relationships through a shared love. Be it food literature, travel or art; be it the captivating scenery of Cornwall or the inspiring drive of entrepreneurs: chatting with people is where stories came from. And it’s what sells stories today.

To chat about your brand, tone of voice or anything from cocktails to content, give me a call today and we’ll find some common ground.

 

Moving on Up

Setting up a company demands determination, plus the coordination of many different skills. Being an entrepreneurial person, at the earliest phase, you’ll be occupied with the business all of the time: roadmapping, advertising, organising, collaborating and documenting accounts. This article covers the crucial time period of shifting from a startup to an SME. Your revenue growth ought to be an indication of when this organic period has arrived. However, despite there being an organic time to transitioning, ultimately you are the boss and you govern whether to develop your company, or perhaps preserve its existing steady rate. The time must be right for you

#1 Be in the growth zone

You personally need to be prepared for the growth yourself. What this means is understanding that you can no longer manage everything yourself, and relinquishing responsibility over some areas. If you’ve grown rapidly, you may have become overwhelmed. Prior to making the transition, you need to first understand how things are going to change and prepare for the new challenges that will inevitably arise.

#2 Outsource or employ?

Growth will ultimately lead to you needing some help! Don’t try to go it alone. Seek opportunities to try outsourcing. Many companies offer freelance accounting or freelance content management, social media management or even PA services. You may wish to expand and take someone on for a permanent role, but in the interim transition period, the wealth of excellent freelancers available on the internet is really worth tapping into.

Platforms such as People Per Hour can offer cost effective solutions to finding people, whilst twitter groups such as Bizitalk really help you to connect with other small businesses and establish relationships that way.

Ultimately, this person is going to help make your schedule easier. Of course, it makes sense here to play to your strengths. I previously mentioned that my Dad does my accounts for me because I am stereotypically a writer who has trouble with numbers. I often get asked to write for numbers people who don’t get on so well with words. So choose someone to help with what you can’t do, before getting help with what you can!

#3 Stick to your guns

Usually, at the very beginning you’ll kind of want to do anything to build up a portfolio and reputation, in the hope that referrals will lead to other business. And whilst endorsements from others are the best form of advertising, you will need to make sure you can cover your overheads.

Once you initiate the transformation that’ll develop your company, you must keep tabs on which customers are working out better for you. No business can sustain being employed for free,and you must stick to what you know is the right price. It’s better to have one genuine customer who appreciates the quality of your work, over time; than 3 who are underpaying you and possibly even taking advantage.

That said, number 5 on this list is really important too. Always weigh up what’s working and what’s not and make tweaks to perfect it.

#4 Focus

Set yourself attainable goals and evaluate your progress towards them on a regular basis. Be dedicated to these aims, as opposed to expansion: growth is a by-product of your effective organisation. Expanding to become an SME should never compromise your business ideals: these are what makes you, you. Or what makes your brand unique and ultimately what led your customers to you in the first place. Get your focus right: managing your business how you want it to be managed and you will acquire the clients you deserve.

#5 Innovate

Being the boss is pretty cool because it means that if you think of a great new idea; you can innovate without checking with someone else! If you’ve seen a risky strategy that you’re sure you can govern: do it! If you’re heart’s set on sending each client a chocolate lolly with their service order: send it! It’s your time to experiment and move with the times. Taking risks is what led you to startup in the first place. don’t be afraid to continue into SME ship!

Right now, self employment is 40% higher than ever before and seemingly rising. It’s a great time to be transitioning, as many companies seek expansion in the final quarter of the year. 57% say they foresee growth in the next few months. Join them, by ensuring that you get the help you need and stay focused on what makes you unique.

7 Deadly sins of press release creation

When articulated well and containing useful, relevant information, the humble press release can still achieve excellent results in promoting your event or company news. I’ve been handling press releases for Bristol businesses and many others reaching the length and breadth of the UK and US now. Whilst unable to guarantee publishing, avoiding committing the seven sins of bad PR should put you in good stead for consideration by journalists, bloggers and media types.

#1 Your title is not striking

As the opener, the title is the first thing a journalist will see. If it’s clunky, badly written or too long, it may well be the only thing they’ll see. With this in mind: make it punchy and a good condensed version of the key newsworthy angle of your release. Opting to use puns or wordplay is only really successful if it’s actually funny.

#2 You’ve written it in the first person

Many companies make the mistake of more or less lifting the content of their press release from their ‘About Us’ page. A press release is never written in the first person. It should never say “we’ve achieved” this or “I believe” that. It’s always written as though someone else is presenting your story: hopefully the myriad journalists who see it as newsworthy. Of course, quotes from the CEO or MD are kept in the first person.

#3 You’ve not exploited quotes

Touched upon above, it’s really important to emphasise the importance of quotes. Once you’ve decided on an angle for your story, include quotes from yourself or a company spokesperson. As well as being the only part of a release that is acceptable in the first person, quotes are the only thing journalists can’t change. As such these are an opportunity to really sell your idea, event or news.

#4 Punctuation sucks

Anything from a rogue apostrophe to overuse of CAPS will make the decision to delete you release for good, easy for potential journalists. Editors, reporters and journalists are busy people with tight deadlines to consider. Think of this when creating your press release. It needs to be as ‘ready to use’ as possible to, ultimately, save time. If you’re not sure on the rules of English, ask someone to proof your news who is. Or employ a writer to create your press release for you.

#5 Where’s that?

No stone should be left unturned when it comes to exactly who your company are and where to find them. As a subheading, include a summary before your first paragraph including who and where you are and the angle. Part of my service includes undertaking this research for clients, but many journalists won’t be this patient and if you don’t include all information, they may well reject your press release.

#6 It reads too much like an advert

This is a tricky balance to create. Essentially, you do want the release to act as a form of free advertising for your company. However, you can’t make it too promotional. Foremost, a press release should be a presentation of facts, so keep it factual and use objective copy as opposed to using too much hyperbole or making unrealistic claims about your company.

#7 Irrelevant content

Again, a really common mistake companies make when creating their press releases for submission is forgetting to find a newsworthy angle. Although you may wish to promote a 30% sale, which is great news to existing customers, how is it relevant to the readership of your target press? You need to relate the benefits to the journalist’s readers in order to maximise their chances of publishing. Read news in that sector and relate your release to an angle.

These are just some examples of mistakes I have seen when companies send me their ‘sketched out’ press releases. Of course, if you’re sending it to a professional writer to create, then an outline of what the news is and who you want to attract with it should be satisfactory. Please see pdf. examples of my releases on Cision to look at structure and word count. Or contact me today to see what I can produce for you.

Why your small business needs a writer who believes in you

When I say small businesses are bankrupting me, I know it comes across as a negative. The majority of my clients are small, independent businesses and they’re who I love working with. And they’re certainly not bankrupting me because they drive a hard bargain or aren’t finding me enough work. Things are busy at Palaver Towers and they’ll soon be getting a lot busier. But I’ll tell you about that nearer to the time. (Wouldn’t want to jinx it!)

So no; it’s not a negative.

What I mean is that you guys (SMEs) are so good at what you do that you make me spend loads of my hard earned cash on your products and services.

How does that happen?

Particularly when you send me briefs which make me research around your business; what you do day to day. And what you do, the products you make: I already love them. I’ll only work with clients whose work I believe in. This is because I know it makes my writing better. So you’re bankrupting me because once I’ve given your words a spin through the storymaker (my own head); ultimately we’ve created something beautiful together and the power of it makes me convert. So I often end up buying your product or investing in your service.

How do people hear about it?

I’m a social media addict, so I spend much of my time craving clever creations people are offering on twitter or padding through pictures on pinterest. Sometimes for work and sometimes for play. Essentially, these tools help you to get your carefully crafted stories out there.  I can guarantee that if your products are written up with enough finesse and your About Us uses storytelling, many other people landing on your site will feel just like me and be motivated to get a slice of that!

Impassioned

Hiring a writer who loves your stuff as much as you do will show through in their passion. Please spend a moment looking through previous projects and my excitement is tangible. This is exactly what then drives me to want to make a purchase! And if it works on me; it’ll work on other people too.

Many clients know so much about their products that it can be difficult to describe them creatively. Many of you are too busy with the other stuff that hogs the hours in a heavy day and you haven’t hewn a space for writing. As algorithms change and content gets ever-refined, driving its purity; spending a little on content marketing will pay dividends when it comes to encouraging customers to have an emotional attachment to your company. This is the stuff that increases sales an, therefore, ultimately profits too.

To discuss an idea for any written project: print or digital; long or short: please contact me today. It makes words work for you.

 

Press Release photos: the great debate

Often when writing your own press release, you’ll seek advice and follow guidance you find online, which can produce great results. I mean, that’s one of the great things about the internet, isn’t it?! However, conventions are different across the globe and in the UK press journalists will not wish to open emails with attachments, since a) it’s more time consuming and b) they can contain viruses.

So begins the great debate about images in your press release.

Indubitably, you should always include an image with text. It helps to break text up; shows your brand identity; is usually more eye catching than simply words on a page; and is often the very first point of contact between you and your prospects.

So what are the rules for including images and how do you go about getting this right?

Plain and simple

Despite creating a beautiful press release with your logo at the top and all of the stylistic conventions recommended for writing a good press release, the actual email you send to your press list should be simple. This means it should contain no html, no embedded images and no attachments. It will look plain, but it will also bypass any filters those clever editors, journalists and bloggers have put on to minimise the risk of spam.

So how can you get your images to journalists?

#1 set up a dropbox for press images

Dropbox provides a free and easy place to store the relevant images to accompany your press release. Highlight the link to this at the beginning or within the actual pitch of the email, to ensure your readers know they are easily accessible.

#2 include a pictures section of your website

Creating a section of your website that contains a selection of relevant images means that any interested parties can simply access (and preferably download) images to accompany any text they may decide to run on you. Keeping things nice and easy will increase your chances of being published, so include a high resolution image in an easy access format, such as JPG.

#3 have a supply of pictures ready to send to journalists

The truth is that if the story itself is newsworthy enough and the article well written, the journalists for the most specific publications will write to ask you for pictures. Be sure to have them stored neatly, named aptly and in JPG format and this way they’ll be ready to go. It’s also important to respond as quickly as possible. Many journalists work to tight deadlines and really appreciate swift responses.

#4 Submit your story to a PR site or blog

If there is an online version of your news story available, journalists may collect the images from this site if they wish. This makes the process easier, whilst also contributing to your site’s SEO. My Cision news page means your images can be accessed immediately and downloaded.

For advice or assistance with creating a perfect press release or any written task for your business, please use the contact form to email me or feel free to call for a chat any time. My number is 07729 263818

Website content

Confessions of an accidental business woman #1

I say accidental because I naively envisaged sitting behind my computer all day typing creative articles and being paid for it.  For a time this was an accurate depiction of life as an original creative copywriter. But to sustain it, I have had to learn about databases, marketing, PR, SEO, web design and many other cogs in the smooth(ening) running of my pepperetically* (well oiled would be a lie) oiled machine. This was not always the plan. And I say businesswoman, which still makes me laugh, as it does with so many of my clients from SMBs and sole trading ventures. I’m still little me sitting in my office tapping away at the keyboard and trying to juggle all sorts of additional tasks.

I’ve decided to launch Confessions of an accidental businesswoman as an aside to the regular blog, which will feature once a week and tell readers about my mistakes in business, so you can avoid making them yourself!

My Confession

I confess that when I first started I didn’t really know who my target audience were. I didn’t have my invented character sitting beside me to ‘chat through things’ and the posts were clunkier with no real direction. Being a professional writer is one thing and being a businesswoman is another.

Avoid doing the same thing

Having a strategy in place will ensure you avoid making the same mistake. Get to know who your target audience are and build content tailored to them. My top tip for a solution to this problem is outlined below. I make mistakes, so you don’t have to.

The Solution: Invent a character

No, not as in who you should be. You should be you. I’m not a fan of impossible statistics but you should 110% be you, as this is who your prospects and customers want to buy from. But you should invent a character who is your consumer. They need to fit the demographic and be a friend; a confidant and a sounding board.  Imagine that everything you write is essentially having a conversation with that person. This achieves two things: you build a relationship with the character in quite the same way as you would with a ‘real’ person. You show your thoughts and feelings and speak in a language that is easy to understand. Symbiotically, whilst you are revealing your true self to them, they will believe in you; which is more likely to convert them into a customer.

Of course, with all the best will in the world, we all make mistakes and every person in a small business will have their own confessions to make. I’d love to hear yours. Please comment below if you have some words of wisdom to impart for other people in SMEs and SMBs.

*my own portmanteau of peppered and sporadically. Meaning my machine could be oiled more frequently. It’s s sort of a homonym of peripatetic which has left my mind with images of a lazy, migratory pepper pot!

 

6 tips for captivating Content Marketing

OK. So you’re not a top-notch copywriter but you love a challenge and you’ve read somewhere that marketing through good content can help raise your business profile. An experienced creative, with the conceptual capacity to deliver cut-through campaigns will hold a grasp of grammar that would make Garcia Marquez proud. If you’re not convinced you measure up: fear not.

Bring passion, bring enthusiasm and your thorough in-depth knowledge of your product, service or offer and you will be on the right path. An excellent writer knows their audience and how to keep that person reading.

#1 Gen up on grammar

OK, so I’ve kind of covered this above, but you understand what I’m saying. If you’re still getting your ‘then’ and ‘than’ confused or are using misplaces apostrophes on your copy, the secret will be out that a professional’s eyes have not glided over your copy. The internet boasts many resources such as dictionaries and grammar checkers that if you’re not entirely sure if ‘its’ or ‘it’s’ is correct: have a look!

#2 Vary your sentences

When I was a teacher, this was the number one exercise to reinforce to students. Always. Using sentences of different length can create impact. Sometimes a one word sentence has a subtext of many more words than a lengthy explanation. Be concise occasionally. Rearranging the word order can also create a more interesting starter. (e.g. The cat sat on the mat becomes As it approached the mat, the cat stretched and sat on it.) Words create pictures.

#3 Be personal

You are writing this to be read by humans, and as well as good advice; humans really like a good story. It’s OK to inject a bit of personality into even the most ‘dry’ of subject areas. It shows you’re human. Of course, nobody is likely to want an entire life story, but some personal details such as your teams in the work World Cup syndicate give a little bit of yourself away in your copy.

#4 Avoid jargon

Again, you’re writing for people. You do want to create an authority voice, so prospective clients will see your expertise shine through. However, overcomplicating posts with too much technical jargon will cause readers to switch off and then you’ve lost a lead. Again, as a teacher my advise to learners is imagine explaining it to a friend/ your grandmother. It helps to visualise a reader.

#5 Don’t be too sales-y

Ideally every single time somebody visited your website: be it a blog entry, an accidental stumbling or a sought out through a directory; they would make a purchase or file your details for future purchases. However, it can take time to build up a relationship with visitors and ultimately people prefer to be in conrol of their own decisions. So, being pushy and constantly referring to sales and packages could put people off.

#6 Add credible sources

But the main focus is to make you seem an expert, right? Yes and no! Of course, you want to demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism, but using a credible source only backs this up further. For example: ‘duck eggs reduce cancer’ could be a statement from anywhere. Whereas ‘Fantastic for fighting cancer, duck eggs are alkaline, which means they leave the body alkaline after consumption.’ adds a link to a credible source. It shows that you have done your research.

For help with creating content packages or to discuss your content strategy, please give me a call 07729263818.

Why Google’s algorithm change means you should use small PR companies

Those with their fingers on the algorithmic pulse ought to have been aware of Google’s latest changes in the form of Panda 4.0. But what will it mean for your business?

Google is renowned for being a smart company. As it strives to provide rich content for searchers, changes have happened to the way in which ranking works yet again. Focused on a developing the most efficient form of search, Google has and will continue to make changes to where results are placed within its ranks. Designed to weed out sites with flimsy keyword loaded drivel in the content pages, as writer I wholeheartedly endorse these changes because they mean more sites will be providing quality content.

In terms of blog posts and regular articles, ensure that your content is being updated regularly and with real information. It’s pleasing to see that many SMBs and SMEs are following this trend; providing solutions to industry specific questions and building relationships with clients.

An article I read yesterday forecasts a bleak future for large PR wires who prefer the tactic of spamming writers with many press releases, bursting with flimsy links but no real content. The great thing about using a small company to write your press release is knowing that it has been created by someone who cares about their company, so won’t rush the release just to make up numbers.

More importantly, a smaller company has a reputation to consider;and as such is less likely to risk spamming journalists. It’s better to take time building specific lists tailored to a journalist’s own preference. I always put a copy of the release onto my Cision news page and promote this using social media as well as sending to relevant journalists, which ensures the release is gaining exposure. This method of distribution takes time and effort to constantly evolve and respond to changes, but that’s how Google are working and more widely how all technology is adapting and small businesses should adapt with it.

It’s a recommended form of distributing to take time to build a targeted list, maintaining relationships by phone call rather than just emails. Effectively, the more penalties incurred by automated press release sites;, the higher benefit there will be to real PR services who genuinely wish to support clients, rather than being overly spammy.

Google is big brother: they are watching you, they know what you’re going to do next and this latest development is ensuring press release distribution companies are taking their jobs seriously and contacting the right people with the right information.

For free, no obligation advice on press release or any other content, please call or email for a chat and I will do my best to help you.

 

Page 4 of 6« First...23456