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)

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:







Or our You Tube Channel:



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 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.

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 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

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