Series of free events aims to help Swindon businesses

We’re delighted to be running a copy clinic on July 18 – the second in a planned series of free events for businesses. More here…

Rombourne serviced offices in Swindon are to stage a series of free events to support businesses across the area, as well as those based in the centre.

The first event will be on July 3, and is a two-hour afternoon workshop with business and career coach Shirley Hensher, of The Change Agent, focusing on helping business owners rediscover their direction and priorities so they can manage their time more effectively.

On July 18, Jo Smyth, who runs PR and copywriting agency Word Worker, will hold a drop-in copy clinic, where business owners can call in and ask for help and advice on anything from how to write and where to send a press release, to tips on blogging and crafting web copy.

Other events will be planned in for later in the year.

“I am keen to integrate and support the local business community. I really wanted to try something different and I have the facilities to accommodate varying size workshops,” said Danielle Mottram, business centre manager at Rombourne’s Kingston House, Lydiard Fields, West Swindon. “Shirley Hensher is one of my newest clients at Kingston House, and this is a great opportunity for us to work together in supporting the local business community. I also hope Jo Smyth’s copy clinic appeal to the businesses in our centre and further afield.”

Shirley Hensher, who helps provide fresh perspective to her clients so they can shape their working lives, spent 25 years in corporate life, as an employee then freelance project manager, before starting a coaching business.

She said: “I am really looking forward to running the workshop in July and helping business people rediscover their sense of direction and purpose so they can align their daily activities with what is really important to them and to their business.”

Jo Smyth works with SMEs and uses her journalism skills to craft press releases which hit the mark with online and offline media. She said: “I always enjoyed copy clinics when I was a young journalist, and received some really fantastic advice from my editors, so I am looking forward to helping business owners unlock their own writing potential.”

For more information about the events at Kingston House, email Danielle or call 01793 683550.

Why a new pencil case is like a PR plan

I’ve not owned a pencil case since I left university, and I realise I’ve missed having one. This new one, I spotted while queuing in the Post Office and it set me back the grand sum on £1.99 – money very well spent. An excellent example, too, of a successful upsell by the Post Office, as I’d only gone in for stamps.

It’s slim, fits in my handbag, and is a purpose-built receptacle for the dozens of pens I have, loitering loosely in the murky depths of said bag.

So why does my new pencil case remind me of a PR plan? Well, it fits the criteria for a successful PR plan because:

  1. It’s fit for purpose – it may not be a ‘tin’ pencil case, but it ‘does what is says on the tin’
  2. Everything is in one place – easy to find, and sorted tidily
  3. It’s attention-grabbing – who wouldn’t like a pencil case that has a nautical theme, adorned with crabs and tillers?

This may be a tenuous link and possibly little more than an excuse to get a photo of my new pencil case into a blog, but there is a serious point: PR plans need planning carefully, they have to have a point, they must be organised, and they need that wow factor that will attract the media and, therefore, the audience you are seeking to reach.

Incidentally, here’s a fun fact: the first patent for the pencil case was placed in the United States in 1946 by Verona Pearl Amoth. They were made of metal and only really available to the wealthy who could afford them. Things have come on somewhat, and now they are an essential school item and far more affordable.

If you’d like help with some PR planning on a consultancy basis or with some practical help where we roll our sleeves up and get stuck in, please get in touch with Word Worker. We will have our pencils sharpened and at the ready.

Care watchdog gives Gloucestershire homecarers glowing report

Well done to our client, DoCare, on their fantastic CQC inspection report. Well deserved – here’s our press release

Homecare provider DoCare has been given a ringing endorsement by the governing body which oversees the social care sector, the Care Quality Commission.

A report just published, following the CQC inspection in November, gave Stroud-based DoCare full marks in all of its five key areas: Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-led.

Co-directors and founders, Steve and Una Mills, said they were thrilled with the report, which is among the best the company has received in its 13 year history.

Steve said: “This is a wonderful reflection on our fantastic team’s dedication to social care and in particular their care and commitment to our clients. Everybody, from the support team who provide the care, to the team who handle our 6am to 11pm on-call system, to the head office team and managers, play their part in providing the very best level of service to our clients.”

In her report, the CQC inspector noted that “the service was responsive to people’s needs. Care plans were person centered to provide consistent, high quality care and support. The service was caring. We observed staff supporting people in a caring and patient way. Staff knew the people they supported well and were able to describe what they liked to do and how they liked to be supported. People were supported sensitively with an emphasis on promoting their rights to privacy, dignity, choice and independence”.

The inspector also commented that DoCare was well-led, with regular quality assurance checks and audits carried out, and actions taken to improve the service. Staff who were interviewed by the inspector spoke of the open culture and the environment, saying DoCare was an enjoyable place to work and they felt integral to the organisation.

Una added: “It is wonderful to receive such positivity in a climate where we hear a lot about the things that are perhaps not going so well for the care sector.”

DoCare provides support for adults to enable them to carry on living in their own homes. The company covers Bristol, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire, supporting a mix of private clients and those referred by social services across its area.

A blog is for life – not just for Christmas

Visiting a new client this week, they confessed they’d taken down their blog because they’d not been able to keep it up-to-date.

Rather than get cracking on blogging, and popping some fresh copy on their website (and Google, as we all know, loves fresh copy) they took the blog down completely.

I thought this was a shame. I see the logic, but it’s a bit like an unloved pet. You get your dog/cat/hamster/miniature pig and enthusiastically nurture it. You feed it, you walk it (where necessary), and you play with it.

Then the novelty wears off, you lose interest and the once-loved pet is no longer ticking the boxes.

Worse case scenario, you take it to an animal rescue charity or dump it on the streets! Actually, I am sure none of you would do this, but some people do. Last year the RSPCA rescued 25,000 animals during the Christmas season – shocking isn’t it?

The alternative, of course, is to ask someone else to help out. If you’re busy, you could use the services of a dog walker, or a pet sitter.

A blog is no different. If you haven’t the time to spend on it, then ask someone else to help. One of our services is blog writing for our clients; we can draft them from scratch, we can write up you sketchy notes into something sensible and fit for purpose, or we can edit and grammar-check your copy. We’ll be helping this new client get their blog back on track.

So if you have a dusty and unloved blog sitting on the corner of your website, don’t abandon it. Ask for help and give it a new lease of life.

For ghost blogging or advice on getting started with blogging, please get in touch with me, Jo Smyth, at Word Worker.

A growing business is great for PR

Our client, Optimum Professional Services, is growing its team, which is good news for the business and also the great basis of a press release.

Professional services firm expands legal and accountancy teams

A new accounts director is among a trio of staff to join the expanding team at Swindon-based Optimum Professional Services.

Accountant Michael Blaken is now with Optimum’s accountancy division, supporting the team with its fast-growing client base. Mandy Gibson has also come on board as tax supervisor.

Optimum’s legal team, who specialise in property law, wills and probate, are also expanding, with the recent addition of Karen Gleed as conveyancing assistant.

Michael, who had been working with a Stroud-based accountancy practice for the last seven years, said: “I really like the idea of working with a firm that offers such a broad range of professional services. If we are working with clients who already trust and know us, it is better for them to be able to access other services we offer rather then send them elsewhere where they may not get such a high quality service.”

Optimum Professional Services, based at Windmill Hill, West Swindon, is a ground-breaking type of firm, which offers a range of services under one roof and is aimed at individuals and businesses alike. As the company grows, there are plans to add to the portfolio of accountancy and legal services. Recently, it took over the accountancy practice Reeves & Co.

Richard Mathews, CEO of Optimum, said Michael, Karen and Mandy were a great addition to the team.

“Both the legal and accountancy sides of the business are growing, and our clients are enjoying the fact that they can get a range of services from the same company,” he said. “We are expanding our team as our client base grows, but at the same time ensuring we offer a quality service across the board.”

Press release: Santa, snow and season’s greetings from Gloucester charity

Word Worker press release:

Snow, Santa and a sensational winter wonderland were all part of a Christmas fair staged by Gloucester Charities Trust, which provides accommodation and dementia day services for older people across the city.

The event was held at the Trust’s headquarters, in its Kimbrose Club – a day centre for people with dementia and memory issues – the surrounding grounds and St Margaret’s Chapel.

Staff at the Trust worked hard to set up stalls in Kimbrose Club, serve teas and refreshments and stage a Santa’s grotto.

The highlight was their Winter Wonderland outside, decorated with trees, reindeer, elves and real snow, kindly donated by Stroud-based Snow Business.

Attending were Kimbrose Club members and residents of the Trust’s care homes and sheltered housing, as well as friends and family members.

Kathryn Lewis, Chief Executive of Gloucester Charities Trust, said: “We have run Christmas fairs before, but nothing on this scale with the winter wonderland outside. It was a fantastic event and lovely to see everyone enjoying themselves so much.

“GCT would like to extend its grateful thanks to the suppliers and sub-contractors who donated Christmas items and cash to enable us to make the Winter Wonderland really spectacular. Special thanks to Howdens Joinery Co, KJ Parry Electrical Contractors, R&W Decorators, KB Heating Services, Gloucestershire Cleaning Company, Corinium Carpets, Advantage 1 Security and Guru Coffee Shop for their generosity.”