Category Archives: Personal

UnAwards 2016 – what next?

A couple of weeks ago I went to Birmingham for the first time ever to attend the Comms2Point0 UnAwards 2016.

UnAwards are not like the usual glitzy Grosvenor House affairs.  This was much more casual – held in a cinema with sweets to watch a movie with. It was a pretty full house and it was really clear to see that the comms industry is thriving with some really interesting and innovative campaigns being show cased.

To top it all off, I won the 2016 award for diversity, sponsored by the NUJ. Continue reading

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Filed under Diversity, Personal, PR

Have you ever heard of ELATT?

Times Educational Supplement Further Education Awards

Have you ever heard of ELATT? I hadn’t heard of it either until, in June 2014, I saw an advert in the Evening Standard for trustee vacancies.

It turns out it’s a rather amazing education charity based in East London. East London Advanced Technical Training offers free courses in IT skills, English and employability skills along with work placements and apprenticeships with various employers to migrants, refugees and the long-term unemployed in East London. Continue reading

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Filed under Careers, Diversity, Personal

Why being thankful is important for your career

I have a two and a half year old son who I don’t often write about on this blog.  He is a joy – this morning he stood looking in wonder at our town’s Christmas tree in the market square and was totally awestruck.  It is amazing to watch someone discover the world for the first time. When he first starting speaking – not that long ago – the first words we taught him were ‘mummy’, ‘daddy’, ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘hello’, ‘bye’, ‘please’, ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’.  At two and a half, he is very good at saying thank you.  Sadly many adults are not quite as polite. Continue reading

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Filed under Careers, Personal

What skills do you need to run a PR internship?

2012 is turning out to be quite a year.  Not only will the Taylor Bennett Foundation be running four PR internships, and increasing the intake from six graduates on each programme to eight but also, rather inconveniently, I am having a baby.

It was a planned pregnancy.  Well, planned in that we have been trying to conceive for nearly five years with no luck, but I never really had expected it to happen and so in terms of when the baby is due to make an appearance, it was not diarised.

For anyone who knows me well, you will realise that this has caused me endless sleepless nights.  My role at the Foundation is completely unique.  I have never met anyone who does my job elsewhere and so I take great pains to make sure I am not away on holiday when the internships are running so that someone else doesn’t have to take on tasks they never imagined they’d have to.  I never imagined, therefore, that I would be taking four months maternity leave in the middle of the year and leaving my precious interns in the hands of someone new.

The baby has been warned that it must appear on its due date of May 5th as to be early would be disastrous and to be late will mean mummy will be cross.  My friends have scoffed at the idea of a child who follows my spreadsheet but it will have to learn pretty quickly I tell you.

The question of who will manage the internship programmes while I am away is still up in the air.  We’ve had a few ideas but the decision of who takes over is down to the Foundation’s trustees so I have my fingers crossed they will go with my first choice.

Whoever it is will have to take on a bewildering array of tasks.  I have been running these programmes for two years now and I had never quite grasped the variety of things I do on a day to day basis.  To ease the cover person into the role, I have started compiling a “Guide to Running the Taylor Bennett Foundation Internships”.  It is twenty pages so far and I’m only up to what to do to recruit the interns and how to settle them in on their first week.

I am very lucky in that I love my role.  It is challenging, interesting and can be very rewarding, but it demands of me some unusual skills.

So, for those of you who fancy running such a scheme here are just some of the more random things you’ll be tasked with:

–          Make sure the interns understand how to change a toilet roll (no one likes going into the loo to find that the last roll has been used and not replaced)

–          Ensure you’re up to date with popular culture so as not to seem a million years old (I am 37 so to the average 22 year old I am ancient) and, if running an internship focussed on fashion PR, be clear in your understanding that Paul’s Boutique bags are chavvy and Mulberry are not

–          Be clear when giving instructions.  Graduates are used to pages of academic instructions with little room for interpretation.  If your directions aren’t clear, they’ll go off piste

–          When giving them career advice think about it from their mum’s point of view.  If it’s not advice you’d give your own child, it’s bad advice

–          Bring them cake.  Homemade is best, but if you’re six month’s pregnant and can’t be arsed to bake then Krispy Kremes also go down well

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Filed under Graduates, Personal, PR

Omigod I’m back

Hiding
Remember me?  You probably don't as I've commited the ultimate in blogging crimes, I stopped blogging.  I know I know, the law of blogging says you must engage with the online community, write pithy and interesting content regularly and refrain from libelous content.  I've still been writing, just not on here.  Mostly on here:  http://www.unicornjobs.com/ask-the-unicorn/ and also on here: http://www.financetalking.com/pages/resources/careers-uk.php

So what's happened since 2008?  On the professional side, I am now self employed.  This means I have to religiously put money aside every month for the tax man or face jail.  I don't think I'd cut it in Holloway so I dutifully put my 25% away in an untouchable account and moan about it regularly.  So to make ends meet I write (see above) and I am the course director for an incredible internship programme devoted to addressing the lack of ethnic diversity in PR, which you can read more about here:  http://www.unicornjobs.com/diversity  This means I teach employability and office based skills (like how to write thank you letters, seriously) to graduates, I also manage the day-to-day running of the programme so if you would like to know more about it feel free to ask.

My teaching and writing skills are up for hire so drop me a line if those interest you.

I also bake cakes.  This is what interests most people.  My cake website is undergoing a bit of a revamp so when it looks respectable I will introduce you to it.  I have sold cakes at lots of farmers markets in and around Essex, but as my more serious job pays better and takes up more of my time I have put it  on the back burner for the moment.  I do still knock out the odd birthday cake or batch of cupcakes but it's not my main source of income. That said, there will be a few cake related posts in the near future so this blog really is going to be relevant for those people that have a love for PR careers or a love for cake.  Off course a lucky few will love both in which case you've found nivarna.

Pony cake 1

On the personal front; I'm still married, no kids, 1 dog, 2 cats, live in Essex right by the beach, still dieting and I joined Twitter.  I'm @gooorooo if you want to follow me.

 

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All Change!

I’ve been a little quiet of late and now is the time to share the reason why.   Firstly, Indigo Red moved offices.  After a few teething problems with IT and phones we’re now up and running and are in swanky new offices in the heart of Watford town centre. 

Secondly, I have a new job.  Tomorrow is my last day at Indigo Red and I will be joining my new company at the end of the month – after a week of R&R and visiting parents, taking the cats to the vets and having my eyes tested!  I am going back to my recruitment beginnings and am re-joining the Taylor Bennett family to work on a new venture recruiting graduates.  Although I will be working across all industries recruiting fresh faced grads, I will still keep a hand in the PR industry so if you need AEs, give me a call.

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Filed under Personal, Recruitment

Q. When is a review not a review? A. When it’s censored

A friend of mine recently had a bad experience in a restaurant.  She and her husband only WENT there because it came highly recommended on a restaurant review site.

So, after complaining at the restaurant and refusing to pay for part of the meal she decided to put her own review on said site.

Today, she received this email:

>Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2007 16:55:35 +0100
>
>Thank you for your recent review of Gurkha Grill
>
>As you may have noticed, it has not yet appeared on Sugarvine’s Reader
>Recommended section.
>
>
>
>The aim of this section of the site is for people to recommend restaurants
>they have enjoyed to other people — we have tried to make this clear both
>in the title (Reader Recommended) and in the FAQs box (Our policy on Reader
>Recommendations). We don’t post negative reviews for two reasons — legally
>we have been advised we are on unsafe ground posting potentially libelous
>comment unless we have actually visited ourselves and also we have no way of
>differentiating between ‘genuine’ poor reviews and malicious reviews from
>jealous competitors, disgruntled staff etc.
>
>We do, however, forward these reviews to the restaurant concerned,
>explaining that whilst we are not going to publish what has been submitted
>to us, this is legitimate customer comment which they might wish to take on
>board.
>
>
>
>I do hope you will continue to write restaurant recommendations for us.
>
>
>
>Yours,
>
>
>
>
>
>Daniel Coffey
>
>Administrator
>
>Sugarvine

Is it just me that doesn’t get it?  You can submit your reviews, but only if they’re good.  In which case – what’s the point of the reviews?  You don’t get a full picture of what all the customers really thought, you just get the few that thought it was fabulous – which is misleading surely?

Imagine if you could only say great things about anything you ever bought.  Imagine if theatre critics could only say good things about the plays they see, or food critics only publish rave reviews for restaurants they’ve finished. 

Criticism is an essential part of building a business.  How do you change those things that people don’t like if you don’t allow them to criticise?  In this age of online reviews and word of mouth marketing, this sort of censorship is not welcomed by anyone I know of.

Come on Sugarvine, there must be a better answer than censorship. 

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Filed under Personal