Professional writer and press manager

Bring in a writer at the (re)branding stage

As snow wages war with sleet and rain across the country, and temperatures even on this idyllic peninsula drop to below zero, the colours in the sky present a phenomenal palette of pinks and shades of blue and grey. The first daffodils, crocuses and even snowdrops have started to appear in Cornish hedgerows and on the fields of Cornwall’s treasures: The Scilly Isles. Seasons are marked clearly in Cornwall: on-season and off-season.

For many, the on-season starts as the days get longer and warmer in April, and draw to a close some time around the October half term. As such, now many local restaurants and foodie places are taking their annual leave, in order to be refreshed when the new season starts. Some businesses in Cornwall use this opportunity to have a think about their goals and objectives for the coming year. The Blue Bar is closed for refurbishment, The seaweeders are tending to environmental needs across the seas, and pioneering companies are getting ready to launch around the spring.

As a contemporary, professional writer, it’s not rocket science to guess why I might think bringing a writer in to the process early on is a good idea. Whilst I do love my work, and seek further opportunities to work with companies to achieve greater success, I can honestly say this saves time and money in the long run. I recently became acquainted with a new copywriting service called Red Letter Ltd. They produced this wonderful piece of copy to demonstrate my point here.

Copywriting in Cornwall is fuelled by creativity

Hiring a professional saves time and money

Sometimes, trying to get the message right internally actually takes up too much of everyone’s time, which could be used on production. Choosing someone whose job it is to produce and implement great copy: through article creation, optimising the words on the site or creating a new brochure text, will save the rest of your staff time. Ultimately this saves money; allowing people to focus on their strengths.

Having recently been researching Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with reference to employee engagement as part of a marketing white paper I am creating for a client, it occurred to me that many staff members likely feel deflated when they spend ages labouring over copy, which then gets replaced by that of an expert. Hence, businesses should think ahead to the costs saved by getting an expert to tame and shape words.

A copywriter can create text expertly

Businesses can ensure staff feel valued by getting professionals to do professional jobs

The main goal of excellent copy is to make people care. Emotional connections need to be established to draw people forward towards even thinking about a sale. A copywriter knows how to use these words to establish a connection from the seed to the fruit.

Having someone help to brand, rebrand or product launch, gives you the confidence to know that each word will count, emotions will be carefully brought into alignment with business goals and your message is clear and concise.

This is what sells.

Connecting with people who are familiar with a problem, demonstrating that you can solve it, and ultimately gaining and strengthening trust that they are in safe hands.

Professional writer and press manager

A storyteller’s tale of a year in business

Buena’ dia’, whistled the man through his gapped teeth and ratty moustache. The plastic bottle of aguardiente ensconced in his dirty jacket hung as a Christmas decoration from his bailer twine. He took advantage of the first available space to nestle his head into the bristly seat cover. I studied his face. A face you could climb up; its crags and boulders mimicking the Andes; rising in the surrounding pueblos. His left eye was a pastiche of the lake at Cotopaxi – minus the perpetual rainbow thrown into the sky. Outside the rain tapping on the leaves applauded in the last month of the year. Its gentle beat was the quietest sound as November departed. The road from Quito to the jungle is long and winding.

 

Deciding to spend my holiday this year working on cacao farms in Ecuador; the days involved trekking through muddy paths, wielding a machete and learning permaculture; evenings marvelling at the combined sounds of a bassy frog, honking goose and cascade of cicadas. The rhythm of a rainforest rave like nothing I’d ever slept through before, it became a prize, a comfort at the end of a long day.

with an incredible content of antioxidants real bean chocolate is having a resurgence

Bespoke bars come from aerated beans

Waking up to the sounds of a rainforest couldn’t feel much further from the skreigh of gulls ripping bins apart on my backstreet doorstep in Falmouth. Further again from the swollen black sky of Tokyo where I was living a few Decembers ago. Having chosen hummingbirds to decorate my website and associated social media pages, it seemed serendipitous that the end of my first full year as a fledgling business I should be surrounded by them; their call part of the soundtrack to my day.

Having started 2014 reproached by my failure to teach full time, I ended it by returning to several things I love: Ecuador, volunteering and (yes) chocolate. Not entirely unrelated to the work I’ve been doing with Cornwall’s only bean to bar chocolate producer, Also I am looking for social responsibility projects to support as part of my long term vision for the business.

What I expected to learn and what I eventually have; like the best laid plans of mice, men, hummingbirds and writers – well, went astray. But it did provide me the space to take a look at the future of Palaver Maven and what I want to happen next. From the fantastic work with  sustainable seaweed harvesters The Cornish Seaweed Company and their propulsion into mainstream media, to the attention The Chocolarder has received from luxury magazines and food blogs; it’s been an amazing year. My small business has made connections to big press on behalf of small businesses, and

I’ve been blown away by meeting each and every person who has dropped their job in order to live the dream.

Recently having started writing adventure stories for Sharing Socks, I feel happy to combine my love for adventure with social projects; particularly those surrounding education and equality. As 2015 beckons, presenting with it the option for expansion, I’m excited to be offering the opportunity to help young people in Cornwall find an in-road to media careers.

with a love of words as obvious as my own, Thomas is a hero

A Child’s Christmas in Wales: Dylan Thomas’ inspiring poem

So as December arrives, we’ve got tasting menus to try around Cornwall, and exciting events such as returning to the rainforest here in Cornwall to tend to, it’s a great time to be in Cornwall. And it’s an even better time to be a business in Cornwall.

From brand relationships, case studies, press campaigns and white papers to newsletters, website copy and regular content, have a browse around the site and let me know if there’s something you think I can do for you.

Professional writer and press manager

Copywriters in Cornwall need a change of scene too!

OK, I am lucky enough to live on the most southerly and most diverse peninsula in England. The incredible landscape of Cornwall is woven through my prose, and in addition to its inky threads tangling into branding; it provides quirky, memorable copy from the many creative types spanning Land’s end to Launceston and Boscastle to Barripper. Indubitably, the place I call home is one of the most beautiful I’ve been to in the world.  And I’ve been to a few places. In fact, I’m in one now. Surrounded by gently flitting hummingbirds and amazing variations of butterflies, I’m in a cloud forest in Ecuador as I type.

An expert in communication, I absorb the sounds; feeding my imagination

The sights and sounds of Mindo are inspiration for any writer

When I first heard the name cloud forest I think I imagined something like you’d find at the top of the faraway tree. In many ways, Mindo is like that. It’s a paradise: toucans, quetzals and the aforementioned hummingbirds call, chirp and play amazing games in flight as dense foggy clouds hug the tops of mountains; lined with banana trees, palms and other exotic flora. The night-time chorus of crickets, cicadas, birds, geese, frogs and untold other wildlife is relaxing, bizarre and comical all rolled into one.

What does all this have to do with business? Well, it has to do with the essential properties of taking a break. I properly started Palaver Maven this year. And, as most entrepreneurs or new business owners will tell you, this meant I worked tirelessly to get it off the ground. I worked every single day. Many days for sixteen hours. Many days these didn’t seem enough. I pissed off my partner replying to work emails on romantic meals, I neglected birthdays, forgot parties and generally dedicated to my work in a commitment I had never given to anything before.

valuable content comes from being relaxed enough to strategise efficicently

Like all copywriters in Cornwall, Devon or the Outer Hebrides, I love my typewriter

I still do, of course. But the telephone ringing, and emails pinging, and the several different charity projects I had on the go eventually began to consume me. One of the reasons I’d chosen to be self employed was because I’d previously struggled with the pressures of teaching. And it all made me realise I needed to take a step back, be somewhere else and evaluate what’s important.

Time off, even the smallest amount of it, allows you to look at things with fresh eyes, and it’s allowed me to let go of control. I love words: playing around with them, reshaping somebody else’s, and creating my own. I’ve been fully immersed in speaking Spanish since I got here, and it’s made decision making for the new year all the easier. Having a distance from using English: the language I love so dearly, and shape so frequently, has blistered a new approach to it.

Whilst not all small business managers, or copywriters, can fly to Ecuador to work in the rainforest; everyone can take a step back and use the time to evaluate their goals. Everyone can find some inspiration to increase their creative output, and if you can’t: look for it. Have even 20 minutes to entirely step away from work tasks and just let your mind wander elsewhere. Listen to the video above and the gentle sounds of the forest.

If you have any marketing, writing,branding or social media related questions, please use my contact page or call 07729263818 and we can chat about what I know will work for you.

Professional writer and press manager

What are Cornish businesses doing for equality?

The living wage is now £7.65, whilst the minimum continues to fall short by an unjustifiable £1.15. I’d argue that although the Guardian claim that over a fifth of people earn under this figure: most people in Cornwall do.

Hire Cornish copywriters, web designers, cleaners and drinks providers

Cornwall has a history of hard work and innovation

Being only a small startup myself, I am committed to redressing the stark disparity of wealth I have seen in Cornwall since I grew up here. As a teenager, I slaved for 70 hours some weeks earning £3 an hour in one of the county’s popular tourist cafés. As an adult I taught children whose families were often surviving on a collective income of less than £20,000 and recently Cornwall has been pronounced the poorest area in Europe. I feel very strongly about the incredible work organisations such as Whole Again Soups, Slow Food Cornwall and The Cornish Seaweed Company carry out; empowering people within the community through food education.

As a food writer and social media maven, my role, I feel, is to help create opportunities; empowering people to start their own companies and raise their standard of living. This will come in time, but is a strong part of my business plan. I can’t do it alone. Despite having had a Florence Nightingale complex most of my life, I need the help of other local businesses.

What can local businesses do for equality?

We can buy local!

Support local businesses in Cornwall by finding local writers, designers, artists

Shop local, eat local: Cornwall

Copywriters are everywhere. And what’s great about us is that we can work remotely. However, just because I live in Cornwall, this does not mean I should be paid less to do as good a job, if not better, than my London counterparts. Local businesses should be keeping their focus on employing local people; from web designers to illustrators; from cleaning companies to drinks providers. Similarly, it means that anyone carrying out any work for me should be paid fairly. If I can achieve this on my profit margins, then big business sure as hell should be doing so. I am confident that other local businesses are doing their best to provide opportunities and support locality in our beautiful county.

I wrote recently about Cornwall’s fantastic entrepreneurial spirit. Despite this social disparity, communities work together and there are people with excellent minds and ideas innovating daily within the county.

Through supporting local, buying local and eating local, we can create our own economy down here and keep the innovative and hard working spirit of our tin toiling predecessors very much alive.

Professional writer and press manager

Branding and Storytelling: Why you need to take time

As the skies were illuminated by the giant face of the moon; red and speaking of autumnal fires; as nights have drawn in, chattering with thunder that ripples across the harbour, shivering blades of light into sheltered coves; I’ve been running out of hours to meet with Cornwall’s finest creators, designers and all round lovely people. I’ve still done it, though, and been excited to encounter brand new businesses who have pulled together to create a networking event in a few weeks: The Launch 2014.

In addition to creating high quality content that gives value to clients of clients, this week I’ve been had meetings to discuss branding and tone of voice, and how having an expert can really help in these endeavours. To truly create a strong brand and customer loyalty, you need to give your brand enough respect to take time with it.

Kintsugi - using mistakes to create something beautiful

Strong, dependable branding relies on transparency

Just as each of the products you create are based on trials and experience, learning from failures, the incredible art of kintsugi, of not hiding ‘mistakes’ but seeing them merely as part of the process; getting the tone for your branding exactly spot on is not an instant process.

It takes spending time together with your writers, designers and artists, preferably together, in order to create something that truly reflects the essence of your values, goals and motivations. It’s about taking the very best version of you and injecting it with just a touch of caricature to give a story to your prospective customers, or those already existing, in order for them to feel an emotional connection.

Emotions themselves are, of course, complicated, divergent and duplicitous, just as language can be. Creating an excellent brand starts with transparency; which engenders trust. By transparency, one of the interesting aspects I mean is to talk about your processes. People love a story, and real stories follow the true arc of intrigue and understanding, with elements of drama through crises. These crises make us human and overcoming them makes us stronger. Keeping regular contact with the public, through blogging, social media, newsletters and whatever form of contact you are using seems daunting to some companies.

How will I make a story? Some wonder.

But being a strong brand really just means connecting with people. Getting their emotions involved. Make stories from the rises and the falls of your week. Today we were experimenting with new paper and the print wouldn’t stick properly, so it smudged. Yesterday I hand wrote 70 letters, but the wind blew them into the garden and the dog chased the like leaves. these small failures happen to all of us every day and help to establish connections.

brand evokes emotions

Great communications create imagery

People also invest emotion in something driven by senses; experiences they can relate to. If walking through the grounds of a Sicilian holiday cottage becomes the scent of fresh lemons, and sunshine and July’s searing heat; most people can relate to some of that imagery. And some will result in craving that very experience.

Others might hate lemons.

But that’s OK too because you can’t keep all people happy all of the time.

Like building up great relationships in real life, building a brand people trust doesn’t happen overnight. It happens through consistent storytelling, revealing information that demonstrates our failures and celebrates our successes. It happens with commitment, patience and humility.

To arrange a free consultancy regarding your branding and tone of voice, please call me today. But don’t expect it to take 5 minutes! 07729263818

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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.

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!

 

Startup 15: The Social of Media

As a startup business myself, I have enjoyed providing a service to support other start-upss in gaining exposure through Press Releases and social Media  and maintaining it through well crafted content. Fortunately the nature of my work allows me to encounter people from a far reaching variety of industries: from cutting canvases to marketing mangoes; labouring over language to pushing pixels.

It’s very rewarding meeting so many people for whom starting a business has moved from a dream or an idea to a reality and empowering to share successes and lessons with such people.

Maplace.co is an example of just that. Below is the Maplace Press Release I have sent to organisations today. This is a truly social media: empowering other startups and existing businesses by offering a low cost platform for their advertising and outreach.

Passion will drive you forward: Maplace for Startup 2015
Two Czech citizens became so disillusioned with menial work in the UK, they decided to make a new map. Passion and perseverance pushed them to achieve this nomination.

In the days of digital ownership becoming a household name, Maplace.co has launched an innovative platform for businesses to gain online exposure. Essentially an innovative map application designed to allow consumers to purchase a piece of our planet, people have been snapping up their maplace for just £1 GBP.

In a time when physical property ownership is a controversial issue, following the global recession, Maplace.co encourages users to make their mark on places of significance to them. Registering to use the app is free, with normal rectangular ‘plots’ commanding a token payment of £1. Own your street, your first school, somewhere you went on holiday for just £1.

Partly like a global Monopoly game, partly a multi location social media; the app was born out of the dream of self employment, and breaking free from the mundane. Winning the nomination for Startup15 would see popularity in the innovative platform rise exponentially: raising the online profile of thousands of companies across the globe.

The journey so far has not been easy. Co-founder Rose Nekudova said, “We came to the UK to try and start the business and we knew it was going to be tough. The long hours in low wage jobs made us miss our families and we were almost ready to return to the Czech Republic. Instead, we managed to use our feeling as motivation to succeed. We want to empower other startups around the world by providing a platform for them to advertise and interact with the public”

Maplace.co is the first ever social platform allowing people to own their place on the world map. By uploading logos, businesses can get their brand noticed anywhere in the world: the more recognised, the better. Like owning houses on Mayfair in Monopoly, recognised spaces will be more lucrative for participant businesses. Own Big Ben and advertise from there. Buy up big buildings to capitalise on their notoriety.

True innovation and perseverance created Maplace.co: a revolution in technology, limited only by the imagination. This innovative concept winning the startup15 award would mean enabling other startups to gain exposure through a cheap solution to advertising: making it put the social into social media.

To find out more about Maplace.co, visit Maplace.co

About the founders:

From humble beginnings, we were spurred on by a true belief in our product. Our hope is that people will use Maplace.co to connect with others and create a unique online community. We hope to inspire others with our story.