Tip top tips for looking and sound like the business…

So you’re going to shoot a video for your business, and you wonder now where to start to make it a memorable viewing experience – but more important still, to really get your message across. How do you do it?

video 1

Getting your message across successfully starts with two basic premises:

  • You know what your message is.
  • You know who your target audience is.

Sounds rather simplistic, doesn’t it, and yet when you sit down and consider it, of course it is the very basics of all marketing. Just think how one small change can influence the effect. Remember Lucy Whittington’s anecdote of the lady creating the wonderful leather totes and accessories, who didn’t chose her ‘fame name’ so it chose her and she became known as ‘the bag lady’…

The Message: needs to be precise, targeted, not too long, and with a call to action to complete its task. Think through what you ultimately want to achieve from it as sometimes to sell more of what you have to offer actually works with a more oblique invitation than ‘buy my widgets…’ Placing you and your business as approachable, easily accessible, skilled, knowledgeable and providing an excellent service without a hard sell may often be more productive… Know your intended end result before you determine your message.

The Mode and Means: Having determined your message and your audience, choosing the best mode and means of delivery is the next essential tool to ensure success. Maybe the boss would like to be centre screen, but do they sound convincing or stilted? Would the sales person sound more credible instead? After all it is their role to sell. Do you want to present a young and forward–looking image, which perhaps a middle aged representative of the business, whilst being amazingly knowledgeable and creative, won’t achieve whereas a younger member of staff, relaxed and convincing on screen might? Or perhaps the older executive is best ‘interviewed off-screen’.

Marketing: How ironic – you’ve made a video to promote yourself and now you need to promote the video – did you think about that when the idea of making the video first occurred to you? What is your plan to achieve the views of your video that will drive traffic to the heart of your message – your website, your service, your product; your business. And now we’re onto another set of skills altogether…

Steve FeeneyBy necessity, this article only skates over the surface of what constitutes good video. Come along to our networking evening on Thursday 31st March to get the real insider knowledge from a master. Steve Feeney will be taking you through all this and more then.

The message here?

Better come along to find out!

Wired Wessex January 2013: Promoting business with video


Wired Wessex – business networking and information with a relaxed feel:


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The art of selling yourself: tips for PR freelancers and small agencies

If you work in PR, the chances are you sell in stories and ideas without flinching. But many PR pros who work as freelancers or in agencies still get cold feet when it comes to picking up the phone and selling themselves to win business.

Word-of-mouth recommendations are a great way of getting new clients but don’t always lead to a steady stream of work.

If you can master the art of cold calling and other business development techniques, it could bring a welcome boost to your income.

 From nought to seven figures

gemma - smarta pr re-blog

Gemma McGrattan set up Synergy Creative creative design and communications agency in Bristol, in September 2006 with two colleagues after 14 years of marketing big brands like Lloyds TSBFirst GroupRolls-Royce and Fujitsu.

Armed with enthusiasm and self-belief but an empty client list on day one, Synergy has grown into a seven-figure business with big brands such as Caterpillar, Ladbrokes and Hill’s Pet Nutrition on its books.

I can still remember the cold call that Gemma made to me nearly six years ago when I worked in-house as a PR & communications manager for a large social housing provider. From the moment I took the call I had a good feeling in my bones about Synergy, which led to years of collaboration.

So, here are Gemma’s tried and tested tips to approaching new business.

Tried and tested tips:

1. Start with what you know. Think about the brands or industries you’ve worked with before as that gives you a starting point and something to say. Also, go for what you enjoy. Target the sectors and companies you really want to work with, as your natural enthusiasm will shine through.

2. Mix it up. Just as you’d use different tactics in a PR campaign, try a mixture of things to get yourself noticed. We did all sorts from cold calling and knocking on doors to mailers and networking. We also asked friends if they knew of companies who might need support with their branding, design or communications.

marmite3. Cold calling’s like Marmite. Yep, you either love it or hate it. But we’ve won plenty of business through cold calling so learn to tolerate it, if not love it. To get past a protective switchboard, have your reason for calling prepared. If you’ve done your homework, you could ring up about a news story you’ve read or a new service the company has launched and develop a talking point around it rather than simply calling to flog your wares. For every few people who give you short shrift, there will always be someone who’s interested in what you have to say. And the buzz from a successful conversation will drive you on to the next call.

4. It’s not about you. Don’t start any conversation with a long ramble about what you do as it’s an instant turn-off. People are busy. Instead, look for ways to engage people and create interest for them. It could be that you have a report, tips or other information that might be relevant to their business. Maybe you have an idea for a campaign or tactic that you’re prepared to give away for free. Show that you’re interested in their business, that you understand it and, better still, can help make a difference.

5. Content, content, content. Be prepared to put in some effort to create some interesting content before you make your calls. Last year we did some research with global internal communications managers to reveal what actually works when it comes to bringing alive a company’s vision and values in a creative way in employees’ everyday work. We did it ourselves rather than through a research company to keep costs down and produced a concise report with useful insights. We promoted it through social media, which generated more than 100 requests for copies, and it was also a great talking point when we wanted to get a conversation going. Other things like newsletters with useful advice and tips rather than shameless plugs can also do the trick.

6. Set targets and reward yourself. We always set targets for calling a certain number of companies per day otherwise it’s easy to keep putting it off. Decide your target, let someone know your goal so you can ‘report in’ at the day’s end and have a treat in mind, if you hit your target. Something as simple as a curry or a glass of wine, or the anticipation of settling down to your favourite TV soap, can be a real incentive.

7. Delegate if you have to. If the idea of cold calling still leaves you feeling…err…cold, you can always hire someone to do it for you. We’ve used experts in the past (and still do) and we’ve got some great clients that way. It can leave you free to focus on other things but make sure you pick someone who understands your business and will represent you well. You’ll need to invest some time in bringing them up to speed on your business and clients and ensure their enthusiasm is a good match with yours. Test them out on trusted colleagues before you let them loose on your prospects. Payment is usually by the hour rather than on results so budget £25-30 per hour, or more for hiring large agencies.

Get in touch

For a copy of Synergy’s Vision & Values: How to make them come alive in your company or a chat about creative design and communications, call Gemma McGrattan on 0117 962 1534, email gemma@synergycreative.co.uk or tweet @synergycreative.co.uk

For help with PR generally, make contact with Marta Clayton, our Wired Wessex member who wrote this blog and kindly allowed us to reblog it.

Marta runs Smarta PR:

Smarta PR

and can also be found via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SmartaPR

More from Wired Wessex next week:


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WiredWessex

Twitter: @Wiredessex.co.uk

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LinkedIn Endorsements : Achieving More Mileage from LinkedIn Endorsements

LinkedIn, without doubt, has grown to be the premiere social networking site for professionals, with over 160 million users and counting. There are a number of ways to leverage its features for ones purposes and a great number of people have achieved varying degrees of success from Linking In so to speak.

Just recently, LinkedIn has introduced a new feature where you can give endorsements at just one click. This new feature allows users an easier method to recognized connections for their skills and expertise. With just a click connections can be recognized for any of the skills they have listed on their profile. Moreover, one can also recommend skills to a connection that they have not yet listed on their profile.

Are you endorsing?
Endorsements add to your social credibility and when used right, it can help build ones online professional identity. Endorsements are featured in news feeds of the giver and the receiver. This provides an exposure that could bring favorable opportunities.

LinkedInEndorsement-1 (2)


Key Tips:

  • Profile picture: It is important to have a good profile picture to achieve more mileage from the exposure. It will certainly bring better recall if LinkedIn users have a face to identify with the name.
  • JV partner: If you want to draw the attention of a potential JV partner, you can endorse him. Upon doing so, he will receive a notification of your endorsement. Your endorsement will likewise show in their profile and consequently his connections will be able to view your picture and in turn visit your profile page.PlacidaLinkedIN Notify-1 (2)
  • Paying Forward: There is also a pervading spirit of reciprocity among LinkedIn users as far as endorsement go. Most people appreciate being recognized by others for their skill set and in return would like to return the favor too.
  • Gratitude: Another way of getting more people to endorse you is by thanking those who have endorsed you by simply putting up an update, i.e. Thanking my connections for the endorsements. This again will provide a certain degree of exposure.
  • Building Relationships: We all know that the money is not in the amount of connections you have but in the relationship you build with your connections. Appreciating those who have endorsed you with a personal message sparks interest and starts a business relationship.

So really, there are a number of ways to maximize LinkedIn’s endorsement feature. What is interesting to note is that this is just but one of the platform’s features. One can definitely build his own network in LinkedIn with careful and strategic maneuvering among connections.

The content for this blog is kindly supplied by Placida Acheru. Placida is a business mentor, coach and social media speaker.

linkedinEndor (2)


Pictures used in this blog post have been taken from Placida’s LinkedIn profile and news feed and Placida would be happy to connect with anyone who would like to get in touch on Linked In.

Happy 2013 and good wishes for good business!


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WiredWessex

Twitter: @Wiredwessex

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Count down to Christmas

mistletoeThe festive season is upon us and whilst we’re all busy attending to Christmas fun whilst working hard, we need to ensure we keep check of our Life Health balance. Our pre-Christmas blog is brought to us by Chelsea Green – the ‘Life health designer’ so sit back and enjoy, and make your Christmas break a happy and healthy one.

A balanced Life health is not only the key to our business success; it’s also the key to surviving a busy and intense festive season too. Most importantly though, it will secure you a happier, healthier and more motivated start to 2013.

Truly balanced Life Health can be summed up as every area of your life that is healthy. Physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically. All areas happy and harmonious.

In the theme of all things Christmas… below is The Life Health countdown of things you can change to really kick start your New Year….

12….things at once
MENTAL TIP – Don’t put off your 2013 planning. It’s as important now to be thinking about next year as it is your Christmas planning. Many businesses experience a dip in January, without careful planning you can avoid being one of those.

11….deep breaths
– Don’t forget to breathe. If stress levels are rising or your emotions are all over the place then take 6 deep belly breaths to restore calm.

10…jaw rubbing
– Rub that jaw; spend about 5 minutes vigorously rubbing all around your jaw for an instant energy boost and physiological change. Try it now; it really changes the way you feel.

9….Christmas energy
ENERGY TIP – Christmas itself has a special kind of energy so get yourself immersed in it and use it to your advantage. If you’re looking for creativity, head to a Christmas carol concert, if you want your energy levels lifting up then head to a pantomime. You could even give back some of your time to volunteer with a charity who needs help this time of year, which can do wonders for your energy state, morale and Christmas spirit all in one go!star (2)

8…list making
MENTAL TIP – Make a list and check it twice. Instead of writing 25 to do-lists, make 1 big one but run through it a few times to ensure you’ve captured everything, fine tune it where necessary and break things down. Whilst it will be a much longer and more detailed list, it will help you focus, much more clearly.

7…de-stress yourself
– Stress is the biggest factor to an unbalanced emotional state. What can you do to decrease your stress levels over the festive period? Pick one thing and take action that will instantly take the load off, it could be as simple as hiring a temp to clear your filing or giving yourself permission to head out for a yoga class or a run to let off steam.

– Surround yourselves with loved ones who lift you up. If you know that certain friends or family members send your energy levels soaring then spend more time with them, bounce and radiate high energy between each other and both enjoy the positive benefits.

5…Foods to avoid
– Here are the top 5 foods to avoid or switch to, over the Christmas period…

  1. Pringles – Laden with MSG (monosodium glutamate) these popular snacks tend to make an appearance in most households at Christmas, but would you continue eating them if you knew that they could lead to obesity, migraines and neurological disorders? MSG is a substance commonly used by Chinese take away outlets and is one of the key ingredients in a tube of Pringles. MSG causes you to want to carry on eating – hence the popular phrase ‘once you pop, you can’t stop’. Check the labels when buying crisps during the festive season and switch to brands which don’t contain this nasty substance.
  2. Salted peanuts – Nuts are another popular festive buy, but when purchasing nuts opt for an unsalted or roasted brand and make the switch from peanuts. Peanuts are a nut which don’t provide as many of the health benefits as other nuts so instead opt for almonds, walnuts, brazils or cashews and mix with dried cranberries to create a festive blend.
  3. Bottled mulled wine – Mulled wine is one of my favourite Christmas treats but instead of buying a pre brought bottle, which is packed full of added sugar and nasties, why not make your own instead. Opt for an organic red wine where possible and add in your favourite spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and orange zest for a mulled wine which is hard to beat. If you have a slow cooker, you could have a batch warming throughout Christmas day for your guests to tuck into whilst the flavour intensifies.dog in party hat
  4. Cheese straws – These snacks appear ‘light’ but are hiding over a third of your saturated fat intake and won’t leave you feeling very full. Opt for pretzels or tortilla chips instead.
  5. Pre-packaged Christmas sandwiches – These sandwiches contain far too much fat, sugar and chemicals compared to most other sandwiches on the shelves at this time of year. If you are eating on the go or if you really fancy a Christmas blend filling in your sandwich then make your own before you leave the house.

4…motivational targets
MENTAL TIP – When writing your weekly targets for what you want to achieve, add in some time for festive fun and make it a target that you commit to achieving. For example this week in addition to my work target, I’ve also set myself the goal of heading out to the garden centre to pick up some new Christmas tree decorations.

3…emotional release
– Choose to release and let go unwanted emotions, say out loud ‘I release and let go of xxx’, repeat it several times and you will notice a shift in the way that you feel. Having an empowered control over our emotions can release so much unwanted negativity.

2…thrive foods
PHYSICAL TIP – Eat foods which make you thrive by adopting an alkaline rich diet – that’s avocadoes, lots of green foods, pumpkin seeds and lemon water. Whilst eating naughties over the festive season is unavoidable, adopt the 80/20 rule and eat well 80% of the time – allowing your body to manage the 20% of naughty food consumption. Taking this approach means we can still enjoy festive foods without the crash.

And…. 8 simple steps to high energy
ENERGY TIP – Download my 8 simple steps to high energy (http://www.thelifehealthdesigner.com/easy-energy-in-8-simple-steps/) for an instant energy boost which can be performed on yourself any day, at anytime

Chelsea Green

If you haven’t checked it out already, then head over and take my quick and easy Life Health questionnaire (http://www.thelifehealthdesigner.com/the-life-health-questionnaire/). It’s designed to highlight where you should be focusing most, in order to address the balance of your Life Health.

For more information on how to transform your Life Health for business success head over to www.thelifehealthdesigner.com, or drop me an email for more information Chelsea@thelifehealthdesigner.com

Do let us know how your Christmas went and what is top of your list for a successful 2013…

We’re on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WiredWessex

On Twitter @Wiredwessex

And of course our website is www.wiredwessex.co.uk

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Freed from chains…

Are you feeling overwhelmed due to the demands on you as a small business owner?

Are you spending too much time in the office and not enough time working with your clients?

Are you missing important deadlines and opportunities?

You didn’t start your business to feel like this did you?

You started it because you wanted to do the work that you enjoy and have quality ‘you time’ too. Instead you are getting bogged down by all of the paperwork and admin work that it entails.

Well the good news is that you can feel in control.

You aren’t the only small successful business owner to feel like this. Many do to start off with or as business grows.  The ones that don’t either outsource or they have excellent systems in place. But you don’t have to be big to be bold or well-organised.

Systemising your business so that it works for you and not the other way around is the key and there are many systemns around that can enable you to do this so that you:.

  • You don’t going to miss those important deadlines
  •  Your social media is taken care of 
  • Your accounts are up to date
  • Your clients are looked after and feel valued
  • Your newsletter is already lined up and ready to go out
  • You have time set aside to work on that important presentation that you have to put together…

You can be in control of your admin and not the other way around – imagine how good that will feel?

Join me on the 23 January 2013, at Wired Wessex for a half day workshop where we will explore some of the systems that are available on the market to help small businesses to stay in control, including social media scheduling, Xero, finding Virtual Asistants and more .

The systems that we will be looking at are inexpensive, some are even free, and all are easy to use.

Bring along your laptop or IPad so that you can see for yourself how easy these systems are to use and together we can help you to get organised.

Let’s free you from the shackles that are keeping you chained to your desk!

Isobel Gatherer runs Solent Office Solutions: http://www.solentofficesolutions.com

In June 2011 Isobel was a finalist in the New Virtual Business category at the Hampshire Winning Women in Business.

And in April 2012 Isobel was a Finalist for the Outstanding VA of 2012 at the National VA Conference.

Isobel and her team have helped a number of small businesses with their admin tasks such as;

  • bookkeeping,
  • producing documents
  • arranging meetings
  • sorting out their office moves
  • travel arrangements
  • invoicing
  • debt management
  • event organising and management
  • setting up teleseminars and webinars
  • email management
  • diary management
  • transcription services

The list is endless…

These are all tasks that the business owner finds time consuming and they are the everyday jobs that distract them from doing the things that make them money and are essential to the success of their business.

The event is bookable here:


Please do also follow us on Twitter @Wiredwessex

And Like us on Facebook to follow the news with us: http://www.facebook.com/WiredWessex

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Real Time Information: the real deal

HMRC RTI picFrom next April HMRC are introducing a new regime for the receipt and processing of payroll information called Real Time Information (or RTI). RTI is being introduced as part of HMRC’s continued modernisation of its services, and aims to make sure the payroll and tax information held on every employee of every company in the nation is as up-to-date as possible.

Instead of submitting tax forms at the end of every year, employers will be required to send HMRC payroll information on or before every single payday, meaning the figures held by HMRC are always as up-to-date as possible.

It may sound simple, but RTI has been described as the biggest shakeup to the payroll sector since the introduction of PAYE. The stakes are high, too – any company not meeting their RTI requirements will face monthly fines from HMRC!

RTI is such a shift that many payroll packages are now essentially useless are being scrapped (such as Sage’s TAS Payroll), to be replaced by packages rebuilt from the ground up to support the new rules.

If you and your business have not begun to prepare for RTI, the time is now! Those using larger accountancy packages should be receiving updates to their software that makes them RTI-compliant, while those using online accountancy packages should see the RTI updates come into effect seamlessly.

Unlike the continuing rollout of pension auto-enrolment, which will not be a requirement for smaller businesses until 2014 onwards, everyone must be prepared for RTI come April – meaning for many freelancers and micro-businesses may have to invest in payroll software for the first time.

Our blog content this week was provided by Crunch Accounting:

http://www.crunch.co.uk/ Crunch log incl name

If you would like to know more about RTI and how to make your business a profitable AND tax-efficient one, come along and join in the workshop that Crunch accounting are running with Wired Wessex on 13th March 2013 where RTI, tax efficiencies, and tackling mortgages and pensions will be just some of the tips to pick up on. Here’s the link to more information about it:


and if you want to get the flavour of what RTI is all about, here is the lonk to basic information about in on HMRC’s website


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Or on our website for all the local and national news, views and events: www.wiredwessex.co.uk

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On the hunt for Portsmouth’s business angels

We are delighted and privileged to have Doug Richard blog for us this week. He is headlining the “Windows of Opportunity” event at the Guildhall on 27th November. More information about this is at the end of the blog.

Ever wondered about starting your own business but dismissed it because you think you’ll never get funding? Or wished there was a better way to make your money work for you than let it sit in a low-interest account?

As we all know, you have to speculate to accumulate but, as the most recent figures have shown, the banks are lending less, not more, young businesses in England.

With banks reluctant to invest and growth in the economy still sluggish, it would be all too easy to hang your head in despair. However out of adversity comes opportunity. Banks never have and never will be the right source of funding for young businesses, and it’s high time the benefits of alternative forms of finance were recognised.

Believe it or not, there are other ways to find the finance you need to get your business idea off the ground. That is why I’m coming to Portsmouth next week, as the final stop on my “Windows of Opportunity” roadshow.

We’re holding a free event at the Guildhall on Tuesday 27th November, where I’ll talk through the different options for wannabe entrepreneurs and small business owners who are looking to expand.

The point I want to emphasise is there are so many ways to get funding for your business ideas that go beyond your bank manager’s chequebook.

There are a growing number of crowdfunding platforms – where entrepreneurs find finance through online networks – and we’ll be joined next week by Jeff Lynn of Seedrs, one of the leading experts in this field.

The other big option is angel investment. Business angels are the investors who put their money behind young businesses without saddling them with debt. Entrepreneurs who secure the support of an angel can also get the advice, wisdom and support of an experienced business owner who is committed to the success of their business.

Angel investors can be the saviours of start-ups in Portsmouth and across England, and a new government initiative means their time has well and truly come.

With the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), tax relief of up to 50% is available on investments in young start-ups, no older than 2 years, and with a maximum of 25 employees and £200,000 in gross assets.

I want the people of Portsmouth to hear about SEIS, and the opportunities it presents both for those who own or want to start a business and those who are considering investing in startups.

With SEIS, investment can become a realistic option for people, who would never usually think of themselves as the investing type.

I’m delighted to be rounding off my roadshow in Portsmouth, and can’t wait to meet the city’s entrepreneurs, business owners and investors next Thursday.

Doug Richard is hosting the opening “Windows of Opportunity” event at the Guildhall on 27th November. To find out more and register your attendance, visit the Wired Wessex website for details:


Our own hall of fame is open on Wednesday 5th December as we bring together some of our members to talk about their businesses and how Wired Wessex interacts and supports them. Do come along and get involved in an opportunity for a bit of pre-Christmas cheer and shameless self-promotion:


Please find and like us on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/WiredWessex

and follow us on Twitter @Wiredwessex


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