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

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

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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I’m really excited to announce the launch of a series of PR and marketing training webinars from, 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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My recent trip to Paris was a feast for all the senses and after indulging myself at restaurants, markets, patisseries and chocolate shops, I went on a day long training session learning how to make sauces at Le Cordon Bleu.  When we lived in Paris these Saturday courses were a favourite treat but somehow the sauces course never fitted into my calendar.  I admire Michael Booth who upped sticks and did the full three stage course as hilariously written about in his book Sacre Cordon Bleu but for now am happy to just spend a day soaking in knowledge about classical French cookery and learning new skills.

Fish stock in three guises

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I love writing so discovering, creating and sharing my clients’ stories is one of my favourite things to do.  While writing is not as scary as speaking in public can be, putting words down on paper can be a challenge. My tip to help you create compelling content is to write down who you are writing for, what you want them to do/think differently when they’ve finished reading and what three messages you’d like them to know. Once you’ve done this, apply the six simple analysis techniques above and you’ll be on the way to writing compelling content. Read more

So, how was January for you?  Were your new year’s resolutions motivating enough for you to change anything about your business or have they fallen off your radar?

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