Putting the clocks back

It’s now autumn and in a couple of weeks the clocks go back – if only we could make the year go back!

Taking stock in a time of global pandemic:

  • We’ve had more sunshine from spring through summer than I can recall in a long time
  • I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with my garden and grown some delicious vegetables
  • Support for local sports such as non-league football will benefit the whole community.
#fieldtoplate #growyourown
Lockdown veggies
#COYC #WokingFC #Woking
Adding my name to the 2020/21 Woking FC shirt
My #BackTheShirt shirt and my @WokingFC Match Sponsor souvenir
  • I enjoyed every mouthful of eat out to help out
  • I savoured every moment of my brief trip to the seaside

Getting through this is more than finding a vaccine and retrieving familiar ground of life as we knew it before the pandemic. Surely it is by the care and help we give to others and the world we share? We all have a “Captain Tom” within us and want everything to be alright in the end. So be your own PR share your experiences and your aspirations – helps us all to move forward.

https://www.laclochepub.com/ #eatouttohelpout
Precious moments: revisiting La Cloche at the Carpenters Arms in Sunninghill with my mum

I’m using the same approach to my work and I’m grateful that it continues even if I’ve had to adapt and change. Fortunately I’m on more familiar ground here than with my vegetable plot!

Swanage in September – Something to cheer me up as winter awaits threatening a possible ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown

Simple messages in a #COVID19 world

Should I have blogging more over the last two months of lockdown? Too right! But the truth of the matter is I’ve been almost busier than ever living a life in the virtual world.

True for the first two weeks of #lockdown, when the world went into shock, it felt as if we’d all become demented Lady Macbeth’s – “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” Of course it was not guilt over murder or any such foul deeds but to save mankind from the wretched Coronavirus 19.

“Wash your hands!” Such a simple message for a threat almost too big for us to take in and yet combined with imposed isolation it has been working. Though we know it’s not over.

High-end fahion: Alexia Genta with a range of her handmade headbands

I’d say that the “keep it simple” rule is a good one to use for your business message.

One brilliant example has been the work I’ve been doing for Alexia Genta launching Geraldine London on May 1 – an online business borne out of Lockdown. It specialises in unique and limited-edition headbands, upcycling beautiful materials from her core business Alexia Alterations, which has been forced to go on hold.

Customers are loving these beautiful hair accessories – a real lifesaver for many women struggling with #lockdownhair. However, what the likes leading UK news agency PA Media has been impressed with is that 20% of the sales is being donated to Women’s Aid to help their work for women victims of domestic abuse which has risen during lockdown.

sustainable high-end fashion
Coverage on Geraldine London by #EmmaJohnson in anumber of Reach regional papers.

If there is one lesson to take away from the changes imposed on us by COVID-19 is all our actions impact on the people and the world around us – and to protect ourselves, business like everything else must play its part. Business just for profit is not acceptable and not sustainable.

March: COVID 19 and the value of good PR in a crisis

Investing in good public relations will do more for your brand than marketing alone and when your business is facing a crisis it is invaluable.

Coronavirus 19 is that crisis and if you haven’t already taken steps to manage your communications here are some steps that you will want to put in place – now!

Step up to crisis communications

  1. Be prepared – Set up a crisis team that can communicate remotely to gather facts and information, ensuring a chain of command and spokesperson
  2. Messaging – This is what your brand is about, provide honest relevant facts and information, empathise and engage with your audience
  3. Communicate – Make sure your staff know the communication plan and facts, share relevant facts and information with stakeholders, share with media as needed
  4. Understanding media flow – Monitor all media & information, double check facts and information before preparing any statements
  5. Deliverables – Prepare a statement and news release, choose channels and content as appropriate
  6. Adapt – Review your plan to ensure you are able to adapt to changes.

A leap into February 2020

2020 brings the blessing of an extra day this month but, really, I could do with an extra 30, which is why I’m writing my February blog in retrospect!

The reason – CREST20 (Corporate Responsibility for the Environment and a Sustainable Tomorrow 2020) Sustainable Business Awards, the exciting proposal I introduced to the @Woking_NewsMail around April last year. It not only captured the newspaper’s imagination and excitement, but has been widely received with enthusiasm. Most importantly, seeing the value of the venture, we have received the wholehearted support and collaboration from the University of Surrey’s Centre for Environment and #Sustainability, one of the UK’s internationally-acclaimed centre of academic excellence on sustainable development.

Managing Director, Woking News & Mail, Terry Tidbury with Director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainable Studies, Professor Richard Murphy

So, often withNews & Mail MD Terry Tidbury, the focus of the month has been gathering sponsorship and support.

On 4 February it took us to a fascinating symposium on sustainable business, organised by @SurreyHillsAONB with our awards partners @CES_Surrey . As a trademarked member of this group of rural businesses I touched base with a number of familiar faces and gave us the chance to share news on the awards.

In a whistle-stop round of meetings, the month brought sponsors: #SurreyCountyCouncil as Headline Sponsor, #ChambersRecycling as Sustainable Hero Sponsor, #PlanetWoking for Transforming Food and #WilliamLaceyGroup as sponsor for Sustainability Impact Award.

Enjoying Woking FC hospitality with fellow BNI Woking colleagues, Anne Woodward, Clarity Homes Solutions, (centre) and Andy Beckett of ABGM

Despite the impact of two gale storms over two consecutive weekends that saw the UK shattered and flooded, the effects in the #Surrey area were minimal. Carol Miller Media still hosted a table in support of @wokingfc in its match against Stockport. Guests included BNI Woking colleagues (see picture left) Anne Woodward #ClarityHomesSolutions (centre) and Andy Beckett of #ABGM.

Also joined fellow Freemen of the City of #London of Stationers’ Guild for its annual Cakes & Ale service at #StPaulsCathedral followed by a lunch bequested 400 years ago by former Master of the Company John Norton @stationerscomms.

The month rounded off in the foothills of Box Hill for Surrey Hills annual awards presentation. The Gold Award was presented to Ian Jones of @LLLHillHouse for its dedication towards improving environmental sustainability, collaboration with other Surrey Hills businesses and supporting the area by improving the rural economy. Heart-warming to know that I had introduced Ian and his farm to @BBCSurrey back in September on the @NickyPatrick1 show.

Left: Ian Jones receives the Surrey Hills AONB Gold Award 27 February 2020 . (Above) Supporting Ian Jones and his son September 2019 for their BBC Sussex & Surrey radio debut


January – the 2020 rollercoaster

A winter sun takes the chill out of a January day crossing the moat of Great Tangley Manor at Wonersh, Surrey

2020 started like a rollercoaster ride and I have yet to take a break – which in part accounts for this late post.

Work of course has been full-on but it’s been all those extras that given it a wow-factor, culminating on January 25 with Carol Miller Media as Match Sponsor for the Woking Football Club‘s match against Yeovil Town in the Vanarama National League .It gave me the heavy responsibility of choosing Man of the Match: I know – I couldn’t believe it either! But OMG what a match! Woking, playing the Yeovil Town in the Vanarama National League, were in the best form they’d been in for ages. The 1 – 0 victory was thanks to a beaut of a goal from Shaun Donnellan but MotM had to go to Moussa Diarra, who was key in Woking’s superb defensive performance.

A gift from Woking FC ‘The Cards’

Being a member of the Business Development Committee for Woking Chamber of Commerce –  another way of giving back to the community where my business is based in Woking, Surrey, it was great to see our first Woking Women In Business Conference take place on 23 January. Having the idea in motion, and worked on it for the last few months, it was exciting to see the response by local business women hosted by Barlow Robbins and a real keenness to keep the initiative going.

Full house for Woking Women in Business (Photography: Anthony Gurr)
Centre Back Moussa Diarra, a gentle giant, towers above me
Meeting journalist Sue Llewelyn was another of January’s highlights

Another treat this month was meeting journalist Sue Llewellyn who ran an instagram course for business members of Surrey Hills Enterprises. Sue was brilliant, she didn’t waste time on the change-your-life blah-blah. The day at beautiful Great Tangley Manor was packed full of great advice lightened with a few funny anecdotes delivered in the way that only a good hack can!


6 December

By the end of the first week in December I knew that I would be the Christmas Pudding by the time the 25th arrived thanks to the seasonal round of festive dinners and social gatherings. That said, sharing food and drink with people is one of my favourite experiences.

So I was delighted to be invited to @Woking_NewsMail Christmas dinner at #CoteBrasserie in #Woking. Rounding off another year as its PR and Communications Consultant in addition to providing some editorial support. Helping this independent family-owned newspaper to see its sales rise by 20% over the last three years makes it one of my most rewarding clients and with exciting plans for #2020 – the best is yet to come!

13 December

This week started with one of my favourite events of the year – Christmas lunch at @stationerscomms in its beautiful guild hall. As a #Stationer and a #Freeman of the City of London, I relish being a member of an organisation that is over 600 years old and the connection to people across centuries of print, publishing and news. What’s more the food and wine was as always delicious! Great company around me too thanks to @Woking_NewsMail #TerryTidbury, @RobertWorcester, former editor of The Times #CharlieWilson and of course our Clerk #WilliamAlden.

Carol at Stationers' Guild

The following evening brought a totally different gathering for some festive cheer with members of @SurreyHillsAONB. Though I’ve known members of Surrey Hills Enterprises team for some time now, I felt very privileged when this year I was invited to become a member and allowed the honour of carrying the Surrey Hills Trademark. I’m passionate about supporting sustainable farming and the role it has to play in our economy and lives – good PR for its stakeholders seems a no-brainer and fortunately I have found like minded thinkers among members such as #TimMetson of Coverwood Farm which recently launched @filletandbean.


Not just for men!

Back from a long weekend in the New Forest, I was pleased at the turnout for the first Woking Chamber of Commerce Woking Women in Work events that I helped instigate.

Mindi McLean had agreed to be our guest speaker at the breakfast meeting at The Talbot in Ripley and I can only imagine that our guests were truly amazed at what a treat her insights were for them. Formerly a successful broadcast journalist Mindi is the kind of woman who is full of energy and inspiration and it’s no surprise that now that this American has made her home in the pretty village of Ripley in the UK’s Surrey Hills she has become a highly successful entrepreneur in property and hospitality. So many good stories – why would you want to confine the event to just women?! So we didn’t!

Not just women


Trade food fairs can be hard work and they always involve miles of walking as you investigate one after the next food or drink offering at closely placed stands along numerous aisles. That said the Bellavita Expo at the Camden Design Centre is one of the more relaxing events. More intimate, its exhibitors bring a Mediteranean perspective. Somehow it sits very happily at odds with the reserved interest of the English visitors to this event. Sharing the experience with my longstanding client and fellow foodie Terry Tidbury, we were able to indulge in some of our favourite treats and discover new ones.

I have to admit that donkey chocolate was not a great taste experience but we are still wondering who has the courage to milk the donkeys?


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