Ceret cherriesA quick trip to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France this half-term week has reminded me of how the French celebrate the seasons so well.  The local markets were piled high with fruits and vegetables at their best with hardly a trace of any imports or anything which wasn’t in season.  In particular the cherries feted in Ceret this weekend were on sale at every street corner – and delicious they were too.  While cherries are feted here at events like the Brogdale Cherry Festival in July, how much more ingrained into the national psyche is a seasonal festival which involves not only a cherry delivery to the President, a window display at Galleries Lafayette (the French equivalent of Selfridges) but also a cherry stone spitting competition?

There are some great seasonal single food festivals in the UK – step forward as examples the Pershore Plum Festival which will celebrate all things plummy over the August bank holiday and the Whitstable Oyster Festival in July– but as a nation, we prefer regional events to make the most of the wonderful food produce we grow and sell locally rather than focusing on one particular food stuff. My feeling is that as long as our local food producers are feted, this can only be a good thing.

Of course, there are always the PR led food events like British Sausage Week to remind us of some of our favourite foods:  I had the pleasure of working on this wonderfully quirky event many moons ago and the sight of a six foot sausage costume in the office will stay with me forever….

There are a number of websites to help us Brits eat more seasonally – and maybe encourage us to host more foodie events for single foodstuffs in season – like Eat the Seasons and Eat Seasonably, so there’s no real reason not to embrace the wonderful seasonal delights our food producers and food retailers tempt us with.

My trip has also inspired me to buy Caroline Conran’s book Le Sud de France: The Food & Cooking of the Langudeoc and I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes with ingredients rooted in history and their terroir. Other new cookery books which are on my shopping list are those which were celebrated at the Guild of Food Writers Awards last night:

Cookery Book of the Year Award (Sponsored by Thermomix)

Winner: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press)

The other shortlistees were:

Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes by Ariana Bundy (Simon & Schuster)

Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Salt Sugar Smoke: How to Preserve Fruit, Vegetables, Meat and Fish by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley)

Food Book of the Year Award

Winner: What to Eat? 10 Chewy Questions About Food by Hattie Ellis (Portobello Books)

The other shortlistees were:

What to Eat: Food that’s good for your health, pocket and plate by Joanna Blythman (4th Estate)

Consider the Fork: A History of Invention in the Kitchen by Bee Wilson (Particular Books)

Michael Smith Award for Work on British Food

Winner: Calf’s Head and Coffee: The Golden Age of Food presented by Stefan Gates (Crocodile Media for BBC Four)

The other shortlistees were:

The British Larder: A Cookbook For All Seasons by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel (Absolute Press)

The Food Programme: BBC Food and Farming Awards presented by Sheila Dillon and Valentine Warner (BBC Radio 4)

Fiona Hunter low resI’ve worked with nutritionist Fiona Hunter for a number of years on behalf of some of my foodie clients and I’m delighted to share her nutritional views as she launches her new website, www.fionahunter-nutrition.co.uk.

Fiona explains her philosophy on nutrition; “My approach to healthy eating is based on the principle that ‘there’s no such thing as a bad food only bad diets’. Of course some foods are healthier than others but, providing most of what you eat most of the time is healthy and balanced, that’s enough.

Food is one of life’s great pleasures or at least it should be and it’s important to enjoy the food you eat. It’s also important that you look after your body – it’s the only one you’ve got and it’s got to last a lifetime so you need to cherish it.  Although choosing a healthy diet is just one part of the ‘looking-after-your-body’ jigsaw – I believe it’s a pretty fundamental part.”

Fiona is based in west London and the southwest of France and loves her life as a freelance as no two days are ever the same.  “I may be counting calories and doing nutritional analyses for recipes in magazines like delicious or for a book one day, the next I could be creating briefing documents or running journalist workshops on a holistic approach to skin health for Simple Skincare http://www.simple.co.uk/Skincare-Solutions/Meet-Our-Experts.aspx on nutrition and skin and then I turn to updating my blog.

Fiona Hunter recipe shot 2Having written a lot for magazines which typically have long lead times, I felt that I wanted an outlet to let people know about my news and views on nutrition as soon as a story hits the news agenda.  I am passionate about nutrition and I understand how people can become easily confused about the messages they absorb on and off line with the result that they don’t know who to trust.  My approach is to offer sensible, evidence based, realistic and credible advice and comment – let me know what you think on my blog.”

Fiona Hunter recipe shotWhen it comes to giving advice on cooking, Fiona leans towards the simple, honest, quick, easy and healthy dishes that she would cook at home.  “I’m not a trained home economist but with my knowledge of nutrition I am able to create recipes which help maintain optimum health.  While my Twitter profile @fiona_nutrition highlights the fact that I love marmite, Cornish pasties and peanut butter but not necessarily at the same meal, I err on the side of fridge soup, eggs, fish and fruit and vegetables when at home.  I’m not a saint though and salty and fatty food like bacon and sweet treats like chocolate both form part of my healthy balanced diet.  My advice is to enjoy what you eat and don’t feel guilty about it.”

Recipe images courtesy of British Asparagus – enjoy it while it’s in season.

Today I’m handing over my blog to Karen Pawlowska of Take One TV who, as an ex BBC trained video production specialist, has over 25 years’ experience in producing videos to help businesses promote themselves. Karen is going to share her tips on how to create effective web video.

But first, have a look at my first video which Karen made for me on ‘What is PR?’ YouTube video 10001


Over to you Karen.

“Video on websites is a hugely powerful marketing tool which is easily within the reach of almost any business. With your video hosted on You Tube and linked back to your website, you are 53 times more likely to be found when someone knows they want your service or product, but doesn’t yet know you!

Now, of course getting people to your website with the advantage that video gives you with improved SEO isn’t all you need to think about.  Afterall, what’s the point of getting people to your site, if the site itself doesn’t reflect your business or brand in the right way, or indeed the video isn’t well-produced with perhaps poor sound or ill constructed images?   It would be a bit like getting people along to a High Street shop and then having an untidy and uninteresting window display – a big turn off.

However, don’t think that you need to be a multimillion pound business to have quality video on your site.  These days, and especially for small businesses that are people to people lead, such as delis, estate agents, cafés, professional services and so on, a 60 second web shot, or to use the technical lingo ‘piece to camera’  – from the business owner can be very cost effective.  It’s at least equivalent to the cost of an advertisement in a local paper, or production of a flyer for door drops, but it lasts for much longer and has greater impact.

WebShots2 Pix low resTo create an effective webshot you’ll need to focus on three key points that you want people to remember from your video.   The attention span of viewers is short, particularly when it’s just one person speaking to them, so remember to cover no more than three points and include a strong call to action.

Then with your three key points in mind, you need to write the script, we often help our clients with this but usually it’s best for them to write the initial words and we can help tweak them for the filming.

After you’ve written the first set of words, read them out loud, and perhaps record them onto your mobile phone or PC, then listen back to see how it flows and feels. Remember, there are no are no full stops, commas or paragraphs in the spoken word!  Also, when writing, we rarely use contractions, or shortened forms for words, but when writing to be read aloud, it’s essential to use short forms.

For instance, instead of ‘And we will be talking about how you will find us’ becomes, ‘And we’ll be talking about how you’ll find us.’

Now read your script aloud again, and again, and again – however, don’t learn the words verbatim – it takes a very skilled person to deliver direct to camera in a way that doesn’t sound false after they’ve got the words stuck in their brain.  The best thing to do there is have a good feel for what you want to say, and then choose a video production company that will provide you with teleprompting facilities.  That way you don’t have to strain over the words themselves, but can concentrate on the delivery and performance areas.

To give you an idea of some different businesses that have successfully used webshots, have a look at these examples:









Or visit our website: www.takeonetv.com







Or our You Tube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TakeOneTVUK



The next thing to think about is what to wear for your webshot – but that’s for another blog!

Saying thank you

May 9, 2013

in Content, PR

Isn’t it great when someone takes the time to tell you what they think of your work?  I recently compiled an editorial content calendar for Emma Dandy of online British cheese store www.lacremerie.co.uk and she was kind enough to send me the following testimonial:

Club La Cremerie

“Philippa, many thanks for your excellent work creating an editorial calendar for La Cremerie’s PR activity. You really got to grips with my business and have come up with some very helpful ideas for me to use to promote La Cremerie, particularly focusing on the use of social media. I was very impressed with your hands-on approach and specialist knowledge of the food industry. Great value for money! Emma Dandy”



So how many times have you done some great work but never received a testimonial?  If your suppliers or clients haven’t thought about sending you one, why not send them a testimonial or ask for one?  This approach generally results in some lovely words winging their way to you which you can then use to refresh your website and social media channels as well as your newsletter.  Everyone likes to buy from a company which other people have rated highly and this type of genuine endorsement is worth its weight in gold.

Why not use a quote as part of your email sign off or on your business cards?  Or as the starting point for a blog post or newsletter article?  Including testimonials in your media material, sales pitches and customer correspondence is a simple way to let other people know what purchasers of your products and services think of them.

Of course, you can’t just keep posting testimonials on your website and social media channels and hope to keep a conversation going with your customers.  If you suffer from writer’s block when it comes to thinking of ideas for content, try drafting an editorial content calendar for the next six months or more.  Use an Excel spreadsheet to list key dates such as markets, product launches and events and start fleshing out how you can use these calendar highlights as content.

Think about how you can rework existing material into a tips feature or an infographic or an e-book; post pictures on Pinterest; run a competition on Facebook; blog about an event; tweet on trends in your business area; or send a newsletter with your expert view on a subject.

If you’d like some help with generating effective content, we’d be delighted to help.

What a great way to spend a lunchtime!  Today I was on the expert panel for a live Q&A aimed at food start ups hosted by the Guardian Small Business Network along with  Miranda Ballard of Muddy Boots Foods and Monique Borst among others.  Questions ranged from how to find a business angel; the best ways to promote a food start up on and off line; health claims for food products; video for foodies (seem my previous guest blog by Foodie-Me for some ideas); supper clubs and social media for food start ups.

In answer to a question asking for PR advice, I said:

“The first steps are to make sure that you have a domain name which is unique to you for a hosted website which you can customise yourself and that your website is set up to either sell online or act as a brochure (or both).

Invest in some good branding and use this across the board on and off line so that your customers can start to recognise your products and company. As a rule of thumb, you have less than 2 seconds to impress a visitor so commission strong professional images and post great content.

Content is king so write, or get written for you, copy about your story, your ethos, your location and your market sector as people want to know about you and the authenticity of your products.

Don’t forget to make it easy for stockists, wholesalers and consumers to find product information.

Drive traffic to your site by regularly updating your site with seasonal and limited edition products, newsletters, competitions, recipes and testimonials etc.

Link all your promotion together on the social media channels you use and push customers towards your website. Set up Google Analytics so that you can see what works and what doesn’t. A good, free site to check the effectiveness of your website is marketing.grader.com.

Offline, think about taking information and images from your website and using them in leaflets at markets, on pop up banners at events, and as press releases for journalists.”

With over 230 comments, this was a really popular Q&A session – check out the comments on the Guardian Small Business Network web pages to see if your question was answered.  If not, please get in contact and I’ll do my best to help: @GrandUnionPR.

Advice for food start ups

Advice for food start ups

Today’s blog is all about making clickable recipe videos to attract customers by ex BBC cameraman Lee Curran who now runs recipe video production company,  Foodie-Me, @foodie_me.

Lee has filmed with the best chefs in the world, and with his expertise and using the very latest equipment and technology, Foodie-Me offers food producers and cookery equipment companies the chance to have their own video at a low cost.  Video is an incredibly effective communication channel which should be part of every foodie company’s (and their PR’s!) batterie de cuisine.

“Video allows you to engage with your customers by demonstrating your kitchen gadgets and highlighting the excellence of your food products. On the internet, we prefer to ‘see’ something before we ‘read’ it. While we (at best) skim through blocks of written material, we will take the time to watch a professionally-produced video presentation.

If your website has got video, it becomes ‘sticky’ and customers hang around that little bit longer to find out about what you’re offering. A video demonstrating how a business works along with customer testimonials provides solid evidence of what you’re all about, and it pulls the emotional triggers in a way that a page of static text with a few photographs simply can’t match.

In every recipe there are a number of ingredients and kitchen gadgets which are needed to make the final dish.  We bring these two elements together in one video which is then tailored for each participating company. Sharing the cost of the video with other producers makes the video accessible to all sizes of food business and will look like it was only meant for your produce/gadget as your version will be edited with your company logo and contact details.

Our own chef will prepare recipes using your own produce/gadget which will be showcased along with the others that are in that particular recipe.  Edits will be made showing your personal logo and contact details so that the resulting film will be bespoke and personal to your company.

Not only will Google rank your website higher with a well-made video, you can now promote your product in a revolutionary way by clicking interactively onto objects or food being used during the recipe making.  Any food ingredient, utensils, gadgets, pans, knives, chopping board, condiments etc. which have an information icon hovering over them is clickable.

Clickable video will engage a viewer to find out more, and with one simple click will be taken to your website (or indeed anywhere you would like the link to go, such as a distributor or shop) where the product can be bought immediately, thus making an impulse buy more likely. The films will also be uploaded to our own Foodie-Me website to showcase our work and give you extra advertising.

This is how we make food videos affordable. By paying a nominal fee of £200 per product inclusion, you get a quality edited HD video for your website which can be promoted in any way you wish via social media to make recipes engaging and exciting for your viewers.”

Salmon Risotto

Creme Brûlée

Peppered Steak


Today I’m delighted to welcome Mark Harris of Enterprise Doctor to share his views on outsourcing:

“As a business delivering a service to businesses, Enterprise Doctor can be described as an outsource business – instead of doing something yourself, you get us to do it.  Outsourcing can certainly have negative stigmas attached to it: there can be concerns about replacing existing staff with staff elsewhere, who may be in another country reducing the tax paid to the UK government or in this country but on a lower salary with worse working conditions than existing staff.

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Happy St George’s Day!  Today was a big day not only for the patron saint of England but also for Grand Union Training as part of the Teapot Training trio!

The three trainers from Teapot Training

The three trainers from Teapot Training

At lunchtime today the first Teapot Training webinar, took place to an enthusiastic audience of fine food and drink producers and retailers.  I was joined by Debbie Jones of Imaging Essence and Sally Dorling of Marketing Foods and together we covered:

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This week has seen IFE13 and the Vitality Show take place in London and what amazed me is the range of PR effort that went into both exhibitions.

IFE is one of the world’s most important food exhibitions which takes place every two years, yet some stands looked like they’d been thrown together at the last minute (be ashamed WI Foods), press information was conspicuous by its absence in the majority of cases and online promotion was sadly lacking.  I couldn’t help but think that for a lot of companies the investment they’d made in the show had been wasted because they hadn’t joined up their sales and marketing dots.  It’s just astounding that the press offices weren’t bulging at the seams and that stands weren’t geared to collecting data and engaging customers.  Hats off to The Good Whey Company who did a fantastic job at the Vitality Show with sampling, great press information, give-aways and a competition-led research activity geared at getting retailers to stock the new product, Upbeat. It’d be interesting to know if those speciality foods, artisan producers and health & wellbeing exhibitors who had thought about their branding and told their story visually and via a press release got better feedback than those who didn’t:  my money’s on a resounding yes!

My eye was caught by some great products at both exhibitions:

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I’m really excited to announce the launch of a series of PR and marketing training webinars from www.teapottraining.co.uk, of which I am one third of the training brew.  I’ll be joining Debbie Jones of Imaging Essence and Sally Dorling of Marketing Foods on Tuesday 23rd April from 12.30 – 2pm for a fact filled and cost effective guide to making websites and social media channels work hard for food and drink businesses.

Teapot training websize

As a food or drink producer or outlet you’re the expert in your field but in order to grow your business you need to have extra skills at your fingertips.  We’re passionate about helping artisan producers and outlets to boost their business and during this webinar, we will share our knowledge and advice to help boost your business and brew your own successful marketing plan.

Join us and learn how to brew your perfect online marketing mix. There will be an interactive Q&A session at the end and the training material will be available for download after the webinar. At just £20 plus VAT,  our Sowing the Seeds Online webinar will guide you with simple steps to help visibly improve your marketing, PR and online presence.

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