Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ending on a high note

Life would be pretty boring if one had nothing but victories, but it is nice to cap a day off with a feeling that a few more nice things have happened than downers.

A long time ago I was a guest speaker at event organised by the National B2B Centre (a very useful networking group specialising in IT) of the University of Warwick, held at Aston Science Park.

It was a good event, well attended, with an appreciative audience who responded well to the message. It is telling that I have yet to write to all who gave me their cards... in March!

Anyway, one lady was kind enough to get in touch with me. Her name is Ranbir Sahota, and she has a PR agency called Vitis PR. She really liked what was trying to do, and simply offered to help... no strings.

Well, she has, and when she learned of the RE:tie went ahead and has brought it to the direct attention of some of her contacts, a couple of which I had sent to, but it seems in the mysterious way of media editorial receptions simply got nowhere near the addressee.

Anyway, she's another who I am proud to add to the list of those helping us, and who we will help in any way we can. Which in the absence of revenue is a little bit of profile on our pages.

Getting Places

No, not a new travel agency. Though I'm sure I will soon get a PR from one who is trying (it will be a tough, if interesting, sell) to suggest that they can satisfy our holiday needs and save the planet, too. As I'm still not too big on the buy-off culture that is carbon offsetting, about the only one that would seem to fit the bill would be 'CycleFromHomeTours'. You heard it here first.

No, yesterday was a good day. If exhausting, both physically and mentally, especially the latter, as it was pretty much full on from about 6am until I went into brain-meltdown at 7pm. I'm afraid my days of pulling 24/7 all-nighters as I did in my ad days are over, it seems.

I am still resisting the urge to read all the papers and newsletters, and blog back accordingly. I have to say I miss this to an extent, because I do get to stay on top of stuff but also engage and, often, get the name out there. But it does mean a large chunk of the day is opened up for other activities.

For a while this was filled by the trial journalistic response system I engaged with, which was running at about 50 posts a day. Of these about 5 were relevant, and in replying during the week I was getting positive replies to my input (everything from request for ideas to offer to eco-summer section in Women's Mags, to a comment on the state of social entrepreneurship in Accountancy, which has my RE:tie PR lady biting her nails) , with the chance of coverage. In the great sales scheme of things not too bad.

Trouble is, my free week stopped. And then the invite to subscribe swung in. Gulp! I'd gone for about 10 sections (and there are scores), and each was £200+ per year to continue with. But then I was called by the sales guys and when I told them it was out of my league they went away and had a think and have offered me a deal based on what was trying to do that will make a couple worth investing in. I just have to figure out which to choose, as a good lead can come from anywhere, and often the least obvious. Anyway, thank you Response Source (what goes around..., see).

Next up, my ongoing PR for the RE:tie is still and, at long last, starting to bear fruit. I am getting some very nice reactions from a lot of places. Especially the trade media, which may in the end be the best for forging business relationships. Still not too much from the Holy Grail of consumer nationals, but maybe an award for an idea is not really enough to float their boats. But that said, Lucy Siegel of the Observer wrote back with a nice note about seeing what she could do, and there are a few other irons in the fire that have yet to cool.

The business aspect also gathers steam. Thanks to a connection made by a school chum, I have been put in touch with a Business Angel brokerage that looks not only promising, but has the added value of a personally-endorsed, and hence trusted, relationship to kick off on a more than reassuring note. And this is complemented by UKTI-supported leads in IP and sustainable packaging that is knitting it all together. But you may see why my brain is frying as, at the end of the day, it is still all down to me to get on top of and coordinate.

Speaking of which, after many months, my much-missed ex-Chief of Stuff Emma got in touch. I miss her input so very much, but wish her well in her new career.

And, in a packed day, I came in this AM to find that, at PM, my blog does sometimes get read by more than my Aunty, and a very helpful reply was posted to a rather un-PR (if not PC) comment about London-based, and weighted, conferences. Check back a few blogs to see the latest.

It's still a roller-coaster ride, but as the analogy suggest, it cannot be accused of being anything other than exciting.

When good links go bad

One, of many, things I am desperately keen to address is a proper media management system.

Not just because that would, at last, mean some serious ad revenue flowing through, but I can be responsive to opportunities (a good friend of has asked for a banner in a local section relevant to them, but I can't remove Google Adsense - which does offer some fair revenue - from the system as it is 'all or nothing'), but I can also impose some ethical publisher control.

This is important not just to maintain brand values, but to avoid being accused of the very thing I (don't accuse, but cock a wry eyebrow at on occasion, so for now let's call it...) 'note' some rather preachy media can be when they say such as flying is the work of the Devil, yet run an ad for a weekend in the Bahamas atop the piece. And I know you can't sail there and back and still enjoy a Mai-Tai on the beach in the time... though trying would be fun.

So I was disturbed to see an ad for Tesco Insurance on the site yesterday (unless it was e-related, which I didn't notice, so it wasn't very good if it was). And a few for less than eco-topics on my blog, too.

None were contradictory I guess, but I'd just prefer the ads on the site to be totally in keeping with what is being written about and, just as important, the values we espouse.

Now, how the heck do I get that across to a robot at Google central? I recall the fun my wife had trying to get a human at eBay recently.