Renee

Horrible hackers, big bums and artisan food all over the place

I spent Monday morning working in the Hoxton Hotel – in fact, I think I mentioned that in last week’s blog.  What I didn’t realise at the time was that, while I was busily tapping away using a friend’s laptop, some nasty person somewhere was busily tapping into me.

So a couple of things to say about that. Firstly, thanks to those of you who alerted me to the fact that my mobile website had crashed. Secondly, thanks to the friend who had let me borrow his laptop to save shlapping mine on the train – I think it’s now been upgraded with a stronger anti-virus, anti-hacker, anti-whatever. And thirdly, thanks to my webhost: TSOHost, for quickly and painlessly restoring the site to its former glory, minus someone’s big fat bum staring up from your mobile phone in place of my blog.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingTo say thank you to them for all the times I drive them mad – and they always help me without charge and without showing any sign of laughter at how ridiculous I must sometimes sound – I sent them a gift. I’ve spent a couple of mornings recently delivering 121 social media training and support to BoroughBox, a fantastic foodie delivery and mail order company in South London, so I jumped on their website and ordered a gift box.

The carefully-sourced products all looked so lovely it was hard to choose, so being in an I-can’t-make-up-my-mind kind of mood, I emailed John at BoroughBox and asked for a recommendation. Hence the webhosting company received a scrumptious box of artisan sweets and treats to share amongst themselves.

Moving slightly away from nosh and onto real food, on Wednesday night I had fish and chips at the Camden Roundhouse before dancing to Poliça a band that Dale found through some trendy music magazine. We were definitely in the 10% of ‘older people’ – something that never pleases me very much. It was fun though, and always good to catch up with old friends.

As travelling home from Camden made it a late night, I skipped breakfast on Thursday. This turned out to be very lucky as it was a happy working day full of even more artisan food. (It seems to be seeking me out…) Charles Roc, a company that specialises in hotel housekeeping, invited me to attend a hoteliers’ conference in London that was organised by the Caterer magazine. As you can imagine, the food was amazing!! Tiny portions of deliciousness dotted all around the room, from a creamy Thai chicken dish to mini rare roast beef in brioche buns, to mango and coconut bircher and beetroot and something smoothies. And that’s just what I’d polished off by lunchtime.

Desserts were served in a bar overlooking the canal, with Rosie and Jim barges floating by. The display was an incredible array of lemon drizzle lollipops covered in pineapple icing (I think!), lavender cream éclairs, pina colada cakes and so many other delicious things that I can’t even remember what they were. I took photos. I also helped myself to a couple of doggy bags, much to my client’s amusement. (Or horror – not sure which!!)

So, with the chocolate fair stash on its last legs, I’m making up for the last couple of week’s binging with a daily stint on Ben’s exercise bike. As Freddie so famously said, “Bicycle races are coming your way so forget all your duties, oh yeah! Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today, so look out for those beauties oh yeah!”

Forget your duties? Not if you’re running your own business!  But if you have too much to do and too little time to do it, you can always pass some across.  Outsourcing your social media takes away the headache of managing your marketing campaigns on a day to day basis.  You can have a professional presence 24/7, 365 days of the year! Email if you’d like to know more about social media management, or ask me about it here: @WeekendWitch.

Hats off to social media, aiming high and sunrise over the ocean

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI love love love Vegas!! There are no two ways about it, and advising one of the stores in a premier shopping mall on social media issues was almost a dream come true… The fact that Hattitude is a hat shop made it an actual dream come true!  (Watch out – its new super-jazzy website is launching soon!!) [Read more…]

LinkedIn photos, squidgy cakes and £1billion of business

£1,000,000,000 worth of business…  Wow!! That’s a lot of money coming in.  I’ve mentioned Fit for Legacy (FFL) before; it’s the organisation based in Canary Wharf that provides support to businesses in and around neighbouring boroughs.  On Tuesday night, they held a party to celebrate the amazing achievement of bringing a staggering £1bn worth of business into the area!!  I’ve only been a FFL training provider for eight months (social media and time management) and I’ve met some fantastic people during that time, so I was really proud to be invited.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingI trotted off to the East Wintergarden in my long purple dress and high heels – the relevance of this will become clear later…  Over 200 businesses were represented in the tall glass building overlooking the evening sun-kissed river.  I usually enter these events with my eyes firmly fixed on who to say hello to first – after all, networking is the key to being remembered.  But on this occasion, I was sidetracked the second I stepped onto the marbled mezzanine: the longest, most colourful, most beautiful array of cupcakes stared up at me, simply begging me to take a bite.

Hope Mutongwizo is the owner of Vanilla Orchid Bakery and creator of these fantastic delicacies.  My favourite was the red velvet with a thick, sugary, buttercream swirl and a raspberry.  I liked it so much that at the end of the evening I ‘stole’ eight cakes – and this is where the long dress and stilettos became a bit problematic.  Along with a couple of glasses of red wine and the slippery looking flight of green glass stairs facing me, I knew I’d have  a problem balancing the eight ribboned boxes on my journey home.

As if by magic, my friend Mark from the Barking Enterprise Centre appeared with car keys and a smile – and the kind offer of a lift home.  So I tricked him into helping me sneak out the cakes quietly and unobtrusively… which would have been fine had I not dropped one and cried out loudly in horror as it squidged across the floor.  (Don’t worry, it wasn’t wasted.  Mark scooped it up and put it on the edge of the table, and we later saw someone carrying it away! Oh dear.)  Turns out crawling around in a long dress in a puddle of buttercream is the key to being remembered.

I first met Hope when she attended one of my time management sessions.  (If you’re reading this Hope, thank you for the LinkedIn recommendation!)  Other people I’d never met before recognised me from my LinkedIn photo.  Ade, a business growth coach that I bumped into at one of my first networking events, knows me only as WeekendWitch and did a great job of promoting me throughout the evening!  (Thanks very much for your LinkedIn rec too!!)  Proves my point that you must must must have a clear, current and professional photo on your LinkedIn profile.

Cakes aside, the evening was brilliant. Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training It was a genuine delight to be part of the celebration and to feel I’d contributed to the success in some small way.  Karren Brady gave an amusing keynote speech about being a ‘woman in a man’s world,’ showing off plans and photos of the new West Ham stadium being developed at the Olympic Park.   I didn’t chat to her about football though.  We spoke about our mutual work for the Stroke Association and her business mentoring for women.

I’m not a football fan, but what with the West Ham presentation, world cup sweepstake and being part of a client’s football predictor game, it’s been a very sporty week for me!  No football songs this week though!  As this blog was about networking, this seemed a relevant song to choose as networking is ALL about talking to people.  It was also number one the day Karren Brady was born!

“I finally got to talk to you and I told you just exactly how I felt.  Then I held you close to me and kissed you and my heart began to melt.”  (Actually, kissing is not obligatory at networking events…!!)

If you’d like to know more about networking, FFL or your LinkedIn profile, feel free to ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

(Lyrics: Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller)

Eight voices, Billy Joel and inspiration from a triple amputee

‘Eight voices, one story’ is an upcoming audio visual exhibition that celebrates the achievements of eight military superheroes who have overcome adversity to inspire others.  It focuses on their positive and uplifting attitudes to life.   Last Sunday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Anne Diamond as she interviewed three of the ‘voices.’

In a cream, compact flat overlooking Waterloo, watching the London Eye slowing turning through the kitchen window, Anne performed her job with a degree of professionalism that was inspiring in itself.  These three fantastic people spoke of the traumas they’ve battled and how they now make the world a better place.  I listened, glassy-eyed, from behind the video man’s black screen.  Tony, a broadcast marketing and media impresario, very kindly shared his family pack of fruit pastels with me as we sat together in wondrous silence.

Imaginative Training | social media blogListening to these stories makes you sit back and take stock.  Mark Ormrod was the first surviving triple amputee to be flown home from Afghanistan.  His list of achievements is remarkable, including a 3000 mile hand cycle ride up and down the UK and skiing in the Rocky Mountains.  This year, he’s booked two 15,000ft sky dives, a 300 ft bungee jump and a terrifying wing walk!!   Can anyone match that?

Mark’s become a successful inspirational speaker, having shared his experiences with the world-wide business community as well as other multiple amputees.  His lovely wife Becky, another interviewee, has recently set up her own business selling juice and wholefood based nutrition products.  Mark helps her promote the venture via social media marketing – so, naturally, we chatted about this over lunch.

The people I worked with on Sunday are all heroes in their own right.  Yet the term hero relates to anyone we admire for whatever reason.  My brother in law David’s hero is Billy Joel – singer, songwriter, pianist, composer.  All the things David would love to be.  (And could, if he set his mind to it!)  David’s followed BJ’s career and personal life with a microscope, so he was whooping all over Facebook when Alexa Ray, Billy Joel’s daughter with Christie Brinkley, began a poetry thread with him on Instagram.

David is a very talented poet.  Carol Vorderman once read out a poem he wrote about her on Countdown – his national TV five minutes of fame.  Anyway, he and Alexa Ray got this little thing going on Instagram and became friends…  I don’t use Instagram but I’m honestly thinking now that a quick sonnet on George Clooney’s wall could change my life forever.

‘You know that when the truth is told, that you can get what you want or you can just get old.  You’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through…’  Don’t wait for a disaster to get out and do the things you’d love to do.  Follow your dreams now – business and personal ones.  I’m following mine: @WeekendWitch.

Social media for designers, not doing maths and helping you win awards

Wednesday was such fun!  Dieneke runs an organisation called Hidden Art, turning passion into products by providing advice and support to designers, plus an online shop to sell their lovely products.  We met a couple of years ago in the oxygen chamber and have attended exhibitions together in trendy galleries across London.  She invited me to be the prize in a competition for 800 designers nationwide!! Three ‘lucky winners’ got to spend an hour one-to-one learning how to boost their business using social media.  Their prize also included an hour with Mark, my accountant who mentors in business strategy and realistic growth for small businesses, especially fashion and creative people.

Imaginative Training and Development | Social Media blog

Social media session with Emerald Faerie

We met some fantastic designers!  Barley describes herself as a textile designer maker, upcycler, craftivist and textile teacher.  She’s the founder of Fabrications, a gallery, shop and design studio based in Hackney.  Mark Finzel is a surface designer, creating fantastic wall coverings, flooring and furnishings which reminded me a bit of William Morris on acid.  Fiona’s company has the engaging name Emerald Faerie –she creates contemporary lighting: beautiful chandeliers and, to attract a wider customer base, jewellery.  The feedback was excellent, which was just as well as it wouldn’t have been a good prize if they hadn’t benefitted.

So from one prize to the next… Leaving Hidden Art in a fine mist of rain, Mark (accountant, not designer) and I travelled on a filthy overground train, then tube, in a floor-sweeping, black and silver sparkly evening gown (me, not him).  At our most iconic landmark, the Tower of London, we celebrated Mark and his colleague Joe’s successes in the British Accountancy Awards.  I do sometimes joke about accountants being boring but these ones are not and we had fun, champagne and a very delicious dinner. Entertainment was provided by Miles Jupp, a hysterical comedian and actor that I’d never encountered before but will look out for in future.

In case you’re wondering, I was invited along because I’d successfully completed the award applications on their behalf, a feat that requires plain English, linguistic and marketing skills; it wasn’t because of my proficiency with a calculator – although I was in the top set for maths at school, where Gill and I spent many happy hours playing hangman instead of listening to the teacher, who she fancied.

I missed a lot of school.  Working in the market on Thursdays meant I never did the double maths lesson or the dreaded PE; and having a stomach ache every Tuesday for five years got me out of double French, biology and whatever else I didn’t like in those days.  My next door neighbour Angie also had a stomach ache every Tuesday so we made ourselves feel better by dancing around our homes to 70’s pop or sneaking off for day trips to Carnaby Street.  She moved to Ireland years ago (with real emerald fairies), but popped over yesterday for a fun afternoon with pink wine and onion rings.  She’s on the plane flying home as I write this – see you again soon!!

So with the winning streak in mind… ‘Never could believe the things you do to me, never could believe the way you are.  Every day I bless the day that you got through to me, ’cause baby, I believe that you’re a star.’  Very nicely said, Mr Brown.  If you fancy winning a business award, find out more about my copywriting award winning service – ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Joint ventures, laughing out loud & special rate LinkedIn training

I did something last week that is still making me laugh when I think about it.  I have to face facts: I need reading glasses. I had a meeting with someone with whom I may be embarking on a joint venture, and I asked to see examples of projects he’s created.  He named one as he flashed me the Internet on his phone.  Being a visual person, I focused on the image in front of me rather that the spoken word and was delighted to see it was, as he said, to do with Christmas.  I smiled at the illuminated reindeer pictured galloping in the header.

Returning home, I tried to find the website on my laptop, but with no luck.  I attempted many variations of the company name (including, of course, the keyword ‘Christmas’) but with no luck.  Eventually I gave up and emailed him.

Imaginative Training | Social media blog | Plain English trainingHow he laughed!  He hadn’t said ‘Christmas’ at all; he’d said ‘Chrysalis!’  I was so focused on the excitement of upcoming festivities that my brain heard what it wanted to hear.  Or, more technically, it selected the most closely associated word to the sound that matched the picture.  That was no Rudolph on the screen, but an outlined person glowing with the aura of a metaphorical rebirth; hence the chrysalis!  When he emailed me back I actually laughed out loud, and I’m still laughing.  No doubt he was so impressed with me he’s rushing to set up our proposed joint venture right now… Well why wouldn’t he?!!

Now I’m wondering what other pictures I may have misinterpreted lately.  If you’ve sent me one it might be a good time to resend it, and I’ll view it with my purple reading glasses on!  I suppose it’s akin to proofreading – and I definitely wear glasses for that. Whenever I’m copywriting anything or creating a website to tie in with a social media package, I obviously ensure it’s word perfect before emailing over to clients.

People need documents proofread by someone else, that’s a fact.  Our brain knows what it expects to see, so completely misses little mistakes.  I include a section on proofreading in my Plain English Business Writing training, so people love to tell me the worst example they’ve seen.  The best has to be a council in Essex where a woman sent a mailshot to 30,000 residents with the title: ‘You can count on us.’  No one proofread it.  No one saw it before she pinged the send button.  Lots of people saw the replies though…  There should be three ‘O’s in that sentence.  There were only two.  (You can work it out…)  That made me laugh too, even though it’s very rude.

imaginative Training | Social media blogLuckily I could see perfectly well on Tuesday when I trained two companies to use LinkedIn more effectively in their businesses.  So many people register on LinkedIn, set up a basic profile and connect with others they know, but completely miss the huge array of possibilities that this fantastic social network opens up to them.  Just like in the ‘outside world’ where businesses thrive on referrals, introductions and networking – so the same is true of this amazing platform.  You can source and target the people you need without leaving your chair, whenever it suits you and wherever they are in the world.

It’s a hotbed of opportunity that’s there for the taking if you just know how.  As I feel so passionate about this, between now and Chrysalis I’m offering six REDUCED PRICED one-to-one LinkedIn training sessions – completely focused on helping you achieve your business goals.  If you’re based in London (or happy to travel here) and you’d like to take advantage of this short-term offer, sign-up here and I’ll contact you within 24 hours to arrange a convenient date and time.

As Bananarama said (not the one time I sat with them in a café in Carnaby Street): “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it; that’s what gets results!”  Want results?  Book here for starters.  And, as always, it’s lovely if you follow me here: @WeekendWitch.

Media royalty, gone to the dogs and a ruined sex life

This week’s feature on me in the local paper’s business section is a great improvement on last time. It doesn’t quite paint me as the next Martha Lane Fox or Michelle Mone but it does give a reasonably clear account of my business.

If you missed it, it talks more about my work training companies to write in plain English than it does about social media marketing. I guess the editor took a view that it’s more niche – after all, there are bucket loads of social media consultancies in London. Mine’s different. Seventeen years’ experience of running a business plus ten years in corporate employment means my clients benefit from a wider marketing perspective.

Last time I was in the newspaper my photo was on the front page, to the right of the main headline in a column titled something like ‘What’s inside’ with small print mentioning me and the page number. That would have been quite nice, had the main headline (right next to my face) not screamed out ‘Doctor ruined my sex life!’ [Read more…]

Corporate branding, inappropriate behaviour and following the dream

A weird thing came over me on Tuesday: I had a sudden urge to clear out my wardrobes in the middle of my working day.  Trancelike, I climbed the stairs.  Then, like a woman possessed, I began a three hour tirade of climbing up and down the step ladder and chucking stuff around the room.  Amongst the treasures I recovered from the wardrobe tops was a bag of Steven’s old press cuttings.

Imaginative Training | Social Media Blog

Original press releases

I married a child actor thinking I’d live the celebrity lifestyle.  Of course, he wasn’t a child when we met – behaves like it sometimes though!  [Read more…]

Casino copywriting, collaborative poetry and disco queen of the airwaves (not)

I don’t normally mention things I’ve watched on TV, but I loved the documentary on Now – that’s what I call music!  Didn’t know it was Richard Branson’s baby but I remember so clearly sipping malibu and pineapple at The Clachan in Carnaby Street as Maz unwrapped the first cassette. Brian Dilly bought it for her birthday – he’s vanished into the mists of time so who knows whether he’s still dancing to Men Without Hats??

Reading through the playlist evokes so many memories (some probably best forgotten…) Getting off with Mike to Paul Young at the Ilford Palais (never good to kiss a colleague!), Marion knowing someone who knew Howard Jones, breathing the dopey air watching UB40 at the Hammersmith Palais, dancing in the bedroom to Human League (still do that!), smiling into my John Taylor mirror and pretending it was our wedding photo…

Imaginative Training | Social Media Blog

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Skyping, Rumours and the power of social networking

Busy week on the marketing front, not least of all promoting tonight’s concert at the London Palladium to raise money for the wonderful soldiers’ charity, Coming Home.  The soldiers are singing with the amazing Robin Gibb, one of the world’s greatest musicians and songwriters.  The power of social networking eh?!  Thousands of tickets sold in a matter of days simply by spreading the word via the vast spiders’ web of Twitter followers’ followers and email lists. [Read more…]