Do press releases ONLY work if you advertise?

Do press releases only work if you advertiseA little while ago I had someone explain to me that press releases were pointless if you don’t advertise with the publication. I couldn’t disagree more. In my experience (and, let’s be clear, I send a lot of press releases and have been for a number of years!), this is certainly not the case. More than this, it’s really underestimating the full scope of a press release. Let’s have a look at this in phases…

What’s a press release?

In really simple terms it’s a document that informs the press about a new product, services or newsworthy ‘thing’. This has changed a bit in recent times because ‘the press’ now includes websites, bloggers and various other channels too.

A press release is usually a concise text document that gets over the key points in a concise way. It’s not a book. It’s not a brand manual. It’s not your company’s history. It’s newsworthy content delivered in a succinct way.

Then what do you do with your press release?

You send it out to your contacts. These should be people you have reached out to in the media connected to your business (could be niche, national, regional, B2B, B2C… loads of options). The idea (and hope!) being that the person who receives it (traditionally a journalist but could be blogger, website editor, etc etc), sees some merit in what you’re saying, feels it’s valuable to their audience and uses this content. It could be online or in print. That’s the basic idea.

Ah- so press releases only work if you advertise?

No, no they don’t. Some magazines/websites work on a policy that DOES favour the content from advertiser- I’ll give to that. Why? Because advertisers support their business and allows it to run and keep functioning. There. That’s the basics. BUT many do not operate this as an editorial policy. I mean, one could argue that the above is actually advertising in itself, but that’s another debate. Many review and consider content in a press release (if it is worthy and actually new/interesting) for the what’s new sections, or product sections, or editors/bloggers reach out about tried and testeds and further opportunities. I’m not saying ‘this is what should happen, but it doesn’t’, I’m saying this is what DOES happen, because I know it does and have a lot of press cuttings to back this up.

But let’s clear one thing up right now. Not every press release you send will get the exposure you think it should. Some might not get picked up at all. This is annoying. If you were to speak to a magazine and pay, you could well bag yourself some advertorial space in the publication to run your release. Or you might be able to negotiate additional promotional opportunities moving forward. That is true. But people also pay to advertise and their product doesn’t get chosen. It might have a bearing on it (in a keeping advertisers sweet way) but I can categorically tell you that there IS a point to press releases. Even if you don’t advertise.

But if the press release doesn’t get used, it’s wasted

No. Whether it gets used or not, you should not send out one press release about a new product, service or newsworthy thing, mop your brow, and exclaim that the job has been done. It hasn’t. Repurpose the content. Tweak it and write a blog – or even a series of blogs depending on the story. Create a video. Take images and short clips for social media. Create graphics using snippets from the press release. BE CREATIVE. Having a press release written can be the core around the promotion of a new product or service. Repurposing and making sure you extract every bit of juice out of the story makes a press release incredibly valuable – it’s the cornerstone to the rest of it.

So, when you get told that press releases only work if you advertise, if you get asked ‘do press releases only work if you advertise’ then I would urge you to say no… because it’s simply not the case.

Do I really need web hosting? | Rhea Freeman

Do I really need web hosting?You’ve probably heard of web hosting, along with all the other techy terms associated with websites… but do you really understand what it means? And do you know what to look for when choosing a web host? Well, today we are well and truly lifting the lid on web hosting with the help of the lovely team at Black Nova Designs. Kyle and Danielle, the people behind Black Nova, are members of my Small & Supercharged Facebook group and I was d-flipping-lighted when they said that they would write a blog about the ins and outs of web hosting as a guest post. Are you ready? It’s a good one… over to Danielle…

Do I really need web hosting?

Do I really need web hosting? The quick and easy answer to this question is yes if you have a website.

If you’ve gone to the effort of building an awesome website for your business, chances are you’ll want everyone to see your stunning creation, and so for it to go live and be visible, you need web hosting.

Web hosting is simply a service that allows you to post a website to the internet so users can see it. It’s a bit like finding your site a home, where others can visit freely, and where it will be stored securely.

There are of course plenty of providers out there who offer free or budget web hosting, and for those starting out in business and keen to keep costs to an absolute minimum, this option can seem like the perfect solution. It is however worth considering the differences when it comes to free or budget and paid professional web hosting, and the implications for your business.

Here are 7 simple lessons about professional web hosting, to help you make the right decision when it comes to picking a web hosting company, and a cost-effective plan that not only suits your business needs, but one your wallet will appreciate too.

Reliability

It goes without saying you as the business owner want your website to be visible and accessible around the clock. Therefore it’s important when considering who you choose to host your website that their percentage of up-time (uninterrupted service) is high.   Professional web-hosting companies offer a much higher rate of up-time i.e. 99%, and this is what puts them streets ahead of their free and low cost competitors.

Customer Service

In the event of any technical or other problem related to your website, having the reassurance that your issue will be resolved efficiently and without fuss or detrimental impact to your business is critical. With professional web hosting your business can benefit from immediate technical support, through means of live chat, email and UK based telephone assistance. Again something that free or budget providers are simply not in a position to offer. 

Control of Data & Content

When it comes to data, rest assured that with a professional web hosting company, data backup and restoration features are provided as part of a hosting package.

In terms of what content you choose to publish on your site, when you pay for web hosting you will have total access to what you post and what it looks like. Which means there are no restrictions for you as the website owner with regards to the amount of data or the number of web pages that your website can have. This is in contrast to free or budget hosting services where there maybe aspects of your website that you are unable to control.

Domain & Email

Free web hosting accounts usually require users to use a subdomain that advertises the website of the free service, sadly robbing your brand of its own unique identity. Whereas professional web hosting will provide you with at least one domain name, allowing you the business owner to build your brand from the get go. With a private domain name your website can create personalized emails, making it easier to introduce to your online business.

Design

A professionally hosted website allows the owner unrestricted access to design the website and its supporting technologies (such as server to server communication.) Affording complete freedom when it comes to both graphic and infrastructure design, means you can experiment with different layouts, and use different platforms for your business.

Space

With the advent of cloud computing, professional web hosting allows users access to more storage space and dynamic bandwidth that is adjustable for growth in traffic in real time. When using free or budget services, such flexibility is not always available and the user only gets a fixed amount of space and bandwidth for their installation.

It is also worth noting that some website builders restrict you to only using their hosting and their platform. They therefore own the rights to the website, and can restrict views per month, server size and other capabilities.

SEO

Interestingly, all the benefits of professional web hosting such as performance load speed, reliable up time, and secure connections with SSL certificates, are all believed to be factors that search engines are looking for when grading a website.

Although many free or budget web hosting providers promise to deliver SEO services, few provide the same level of progress up the search engine rankings as many businesses would demand.

Having the control over the SEO process is easier for professional web hosting and gives the business owner the ability and access to keep optimizing its practices over time.

 

The amount of third party integration that some websites may require is not easy or even possible on free or budget web hosting services. Services such as using an e-commerce platform are easier to install on platforms owned by professional web hosting companies.

As a key component to your business, having piece of mind that your website is in trusted and safe hands can be priceless, and one less thing to worry about.

How do you decide which web hosting provider to pick?

When making your decision, reading reviews can be helpful, or you may want to ask for recommendations from trusted sources in your network, as they are more likely to offer you a balanced view, having had first-hand experience of using professional web hosting.

 

Here at Black Nova Designs Ltd we have businesses move to us almost daily, as our hosting offers increased web traffic, optimised images, and impressive load speed to name only a few of the benefits.

If you are in a dilemma about your web hosting and would like to discover what options are available to you whatever the size of your business, contact Black Nova Designs Ltd and we can answer your questions for you.

Behind… the Hiho Silver sponsored best dressed at the Badminton Trot Up

Badminton Trot Up

Image by Sweet Images/Rachel Bragg

I think I’ve JUST recovered from Badminton – but what a week it was! Badminton Horse Trials week is always a busy one for me (as are the weeks leading up to it with all the prep) BUT when you see it all come together so beautifully it makes every moment worth it. And that’s why, today, we’re going behind the Hiho sponsored best dressed at the Badminton Trot Up.

The Hiho Silver sponsored best dressed at the Badminton Trot Up

For the second year running, Hiho Silver sponsored the best dressed at the Badminton Horse Trials Trot Up. Last year they did it for the first time (and the first time the best dressed had been awarded at Badminton too!). And this year, well, it was the sequel!

Last year, Hiho’s Andrew Ransford judged the best dressed with sponsored rider Emily King and eventer Dani Evans. This year, Andrew judged the trot up style stakes with brand ambassador Alice Plunkett and stylist, socialite and columnist, Lady Alice Manners.

The Hiho Silver team – trot up side

Now, you might think that Andrew, Alice and Lady Alice were the only people involved in the Badminton trot up and Hiho’s sponsorship. But you’d be wrong. Because behind the vast majority of ‘things’ like this, there’s a lot of work. And this was no different…

Also on the ‘house side’, we had…

Badminton Trot Up - Emma Warren

Emma Warren – image by Sweet Images/Rachel Bragg

Emma Warren- Hiho’s Queen Bee/MD. Emma went up for the trot up to take pics for social media, which she sent over to me (before they were showing on the trot up Live stream – talk about fast fingers!!) to help keep Hiho’s Instagram and Facebook following up to date with who was running down the trot up and what they were wearing.

Sophie Callahan- brand ambassador. Sophie was on Radio Badminton with Rupert Bell and Matt Ryan discussing trot up style. She did this last year too and was absolutely amazing. After the trot up, she also wrote a news item for the Badminton website about it – you can read Sophie’s take on the trot up here – along with who won the Hiho best dressed female and male prizes…

And then we had Rachel Bragg- Sweet Images/photographer. Rachel was also house side and was taking pics of the presentation, the judges and the horses and their stylish rider too. These have already been used on Hiho’s social media but will also appear online and on other content soon and in the run up to next year’s event too.

And, in addition to this…

There was the Badminton team who helped to bring it together from their side. And I had the joy of working with them and they were incredible.

And that’s before we dig into the ‘home team’ who helped keep the home fires going (Michelle and Amanda at Hiho Towers), the show team who kept the stand going during the trot up and the HUGE amount of planning something like this takes.

So that’s how it all works. It’s great to be a small cog in this kind of event, and when you see it all come together and work exactly how you want, well, it’s something else!

Seven ways to use Instagram Stories

Seven ways to use Instagram StoriesYou might have realised that I’m a big fan of Instagram Stories (hop on over to my Instagram if you’re yet to!), but the good news is that they’re not JUST fun. In fact, they can provide a great way to connect with your audience. I was asked about Instagram Stories a little while ago in one of the Facebook Live sessions, so decided that it would be a good opportunity to talk about them and different ways to use Instagram Stories.

Seven ways to Instagram Stories

Depending on the nature of your business, blog or Instagram account, you can choose to use your Instagram Stories in a number of ways…here are seven ways to use Instagram Stories that you might find useful…

  • Document. Unlike your main feed images that are more than likely well thought through and carefully composed with a key point or message, Instagram Stories don’t need to be. They can be used to document what you’re up to in your day. Yes, you want to have a point to the Story, but it doesn’t have to be as specific as a main feed image.
  • Behind the scenes. Stories are a great way to show what goes on behind the scenes at where you work. It could be the creation of a product, getting ready for a show, packaging, personalisation… the list goes on.
  • Events. Instagram Stories provide the perfect place to put show and event content up. This kind of falls into the document category, but still.
  • Interviews. You can use Instagram Stories to record micro interviews with people. Brand ambassador? Customer? Team member… if they have something concise to stay, use Stories.
  • Poll. Yep – you can use Instagram Stories to ask an opinion and then integrate a poll into the Story that people can vote on.
  • Promotion. Promote a blog post using Stories. You can take an image of it on the screen, add an image or a graphic you’ve created, or even make a short video. It’s up to you. You could also use Stories to promote a specific hashtag on competition. Honestly, there’s SO much scope.
  • Share a thought. Instagram Stories can be the perfect place to share a thought. I do this a LOT.. usually when I’m walking the dog or waiting for my children to wake up from a car ride. It’s a nice way to connect with your audience authentically and let your personality come out.

And this is JUST the surface of it all and a few ideas. I use my own Instagram Stories for all of the above and more. I’ve showcased products for competitions through Stories, shared client posts. shown press clippings (with permission) and lots more.

How do you use Instagram Stories? What do you think of the ways to use Instagram Stories listed above? I’d love to know. And if you’d like to see my Instagram Stories in action, please do come and follow my Instagram at @rheafreemanpr

What’s lip balm got to do with a Royal Wedding?

Royal Wedding What’s lip balm got to do with a Royal Wedding? This was the exact question I asked myself when an ad for a very well known brand of lip balm popped up in my Instagram feed. Oh- did I forget to mention- it was a special edition Harry and Meghan wedding edition one? Yep- I thought it was a bit strange too… and even though the angle is clear, it still feels odd to me. As a long game strategy, what does it bring to the table?

Has lip balm got anything to do with a Royal Wedding?

In my opinion? Nope. But then I don’t think that half the wedding themed stuff I’ve see has either. I completely 100% understand why people have brought out Royal Wedding themed things, I really do, but for me it’s got to fit the brand. It always has to feel on brand and not like the company is clutching at straws. An attempt to grab a bit of the spotlight when it’s shining a long way away from them and their brand. Do you know what I mean? Capitalising on the things that your brand is doing, that match the values of your brand – absolutely – but when it’s random? It just feels odd. Like a vegan friend eating a steak because it’s now on trend and popular.

But it gets even weirder than lip balm…

Yep… after that Royal Wedding edition of lip balm popped up, I kept seeing everything connected to the Royal Wedding. And don’t think I’m anti that either – I really hope they make each other very happy and live happily ever after. I have no issue with weddings, or marriage, or the Royals, or businesses trying to capitalise on a current event – newsjack if you will – it can have huge value. Note the use of the word can. I think when done well, and in a way that is reflective of the brand’s values, target market, etc. etc, it can be a very valuable tool. Shall we explore some of the other fun wedding themed products I’ve found? Just for kicks… I’m not going to name brands because I am sure there’s more than one doing the same thing… but here we go…

Wedding sausages. The one I found did amuse me as it combined sweet ginger and American mustard, but a wedding sausage still seems a bit of a stretch,

Crisps. I’ve seen ones combining ginger with edible glitter

Swimming costumes. These are very, very special and Harry’s chin groove falls in a really awkward place…

Dog neckerchiefs… because all dogs are pro the Royal family, aren’t they?

Specially designed deep fried chicken buckets. No other words needed 

Wooden spoons. So you can see Meghan or Harry’s face when you’re cooking.

There are more – plenty more… just have a Google.

 

So, why do I object to these? On one hand, I don’t. All of these have attained many column inches online which has, no doubt, raised the profile of the brands involved. It’s probably generated significant sales too. So that’s gone well…

But long term… will it make a difference to the brand, to loyalty, to product development and reputation? Will it make people become raving fans of the brand… or fans at all? For some, it might do. If someone tries one of the wedding themed sausages or crisps and really likes it, they might be tempted to buy more from that brand. Maybe. Or maybe they make a ‘serious’ company that prides itself on a range of values appear more flippant and frivolous?

What do you think? What Royal Wedding themed products have you seen?

Do you think they’re a stroke of marketing genius or a bit tacky?

Behind… the Small & Supercharged giveaway! | Rhea Freeman

Small and Supercharged Giveaway

The Small and Supercharged giveaway bundle

Have you seen the Small & Supercharged giveaway? This AMAZING competition has recently launched on my Facebook page and the prize bundle is INCREDIBLE. I want to say a ginormous thank you to all the businesses who have donated prizes (I’m going to walk you through them all below) – the winner is going to have a very good day when this bundle of joy arrives!

What’s the Small & Supercharged giveaway?

The Small & Supercharged giveaway is a simple competition with a few purposes. First of all, it’s to celebrate my Small & Supercharged Facebook group getting over 1000 members. To me, that’s just plain crazy. It’s such a fab group and I am SO proud of it, but I didn’t imagine it would grow at such a rate and do so much good. To get to over 1000 fabulous members is amazing to me. And I wanted to celebrate.

So – I posted in the group and asked if anyone would be interested in donating a prize to the prize bundle. The idea would be to promote S&S and this milestone, of course, but it would also be to promote some of the amazing members inside the group. The remit was that anyone could donate a prize as long as it didn’t cross over the path of someone else who had already agreed. I didn’t want have a prize bundle made up of, I don’t know, 20 saddle pads, for example. As great as saddle pads are, that wouldn’t work as a prize. But luckily the diversity of the group shone through and an amazing bundle was created. Here are the prizes in the bundle – in alphabetical order by company name for fairness!

Hiho Silver Friendship Bracelet

Hiho Silver Friendship Bracelet

Who has donated to the Small & Supercharged 1k giveaway bundle?

Black Nova Designs has given a USB stick and a year’s hosting

Bling in the Show Ring has given a stock pin with pink, pearl and white elements

Doris & Co has given a lovely British creamware ‘Hold Fast’ Half Pint Mug

Equestriman has given a branded baseball cap

EvoEquine has given a tub of natural leather balm

Haynet has donated a lovely branded mug and pen

Hettie Company has donated a beautiful tweed iPad case. Made in Britain and soooo pretty!

Hiho Silver has given a stunning Exclusive Sterling Silver Horseshoe Friendship Bracelet

Hoofprints has donated a Small & Supercharged branded mug and coaster

Mackenzie and George

Mackenzie and George

Horse Riding With Confidence Scotland has donated a gift voucher for a session

Horsemanship Magazine has donated a magazine subscription

Horseshoe Hearts & Gifts has given Linked Horseshoe Hearts

Huf Designs has given a beautiful turquoise SKUP

Inkpot & Press has donated a Kikki K Goals Journal – ideal for stationery lovers!

Loch Leven Equine Practice has given an extensive equine first aid kit. Not only are first aid items included, but it comes in a great bag with a handy guide.

Lois Rose Fine Art has given one colouring book

Lotte Simons Photography has donated a stunning equine photo print

Mackenzie & George has given a handmade feather brooch by Wendy Goode, and a new leather keyring with branded brass rivet

Mother Bee has given a bundle of goodies for horse (Soothe & Protect), human (Soothing Lip Balm & Yard Hand Rescue) and tack (Leather Balm)

NKC Equestrian has given TWO places on an equine first aid course

My Dogs Deli has donated a box of canine goodies

Rowan & Ruby has donated a gorgeous tweed keyring

Safe Care Equine has donated two bottles of Total Body Wash

Super X Country has given a pink bobble hat from its current collection

Safe-Care Equine, The Herbal Horse, and Lotte Simons Photography

Safe-Care Equine, The Herbal Horse, and Lotte Simons Photography

Tail End Jewellery has given a £40 gift voucher

The Collar Club has give a subscription box for dogs

Tidy Tack Rooms Ltd has donated two saddlepad storage bags

The Equine Business Assistant has donated a pen, horse paperclips and a voucher for a hour of services

21st Century Rider has donated a Back On Track saddlepad

White Horse Leather has donated a leather headcollar

Wimpy Eventer has given two books: How To Get Your Leg Over and How To Stay On Top

 

I’ve added Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, and a Project Book notebook

How can you enter AND find out about all the amazing prizes above?

Well, that’s simple! In order to enter, just pop on over to my Facebook page. The post is pinned to the top of the page and you can find out more about ALL the companies involved and tagged there too. Please give them a little social media love and support. Without their generosity, this giveaway would be, well, non-existent, if you can show them a little love that would be fab.

And what if you want to join Small & Supercharged?

Wimpy Eventer, Haynet, and Hoofprints

Wimpy Eventer, Haynet, and Hoofprints

Then be my guest – just come on over and ask to join the Small & Supercharged group on Facebook. Just one thing, PLEASE answer the questions. At time of writing this blog, I have 94 requests pending approval. Why? Because most of them didn’t answer the questions and I can not see from their profile if they’re a good fit for the group. I know. I take my role of creator and admin a *bit* too seriously.

Anyway, a HUGE thank you to the Small & Supercharged group for their help with the giveaway. And best of luck to you if you enter… entries close at the end of May ’18.

Why I reduced my blogging schedule

Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and your blogging schedule is another addition to your workload? Do you feel like your blogging schedule is slipping? Or maybe you made the conscious effort to reduce your blogging schedule? Yeah… I did that too…

You may have noticed that my blogging schedule has slipped a little of late. Well, that’s not entirely true. It didn’t so much slip, it was more a conscious decision to blog less. To reduce my blogging schedule. But I’ve come to realise that, for me, this wasn’t such a good choice. So here I wanted to explain why I reduced by blogging schedule and why I have every intention of ramping it back up again…

Why I reduced my blogging schedule

Can we nip back in time? A while ago – well, over a year ago – I set myself a challenge. To blog once a day for 40 days. It was my 40 day blogging challenge. The aim was simple: I needed to get blogging for myself. At the time, I did a lot of blogging for other people’s sites and I saw the power it had. But for myself? Never had the time – too busy- nothing to say- insert any excuse you like. I had and used them all. I always like to try and test things so, when a client asks a question, I can actually help solve an issue because I’ve been there and done it. With blogging, I had done this for clients but not for myself, so I knew I needed to change that… so I started the blogging challenge.

What happened after 40 days?

After the 40 day blogging challenge, I reduced my schedule from once a day to three times a week because, really, once a day was not practical for me at that time – three times a week was. It felt good to have a plan and, after writing once a day for 40 days, three times a week was a breeze. I liked it. I got lots of information out, I had lots of lovely feedback, it generated traffic for my website, enquiries and clients. It ticked all the boxes.

As for the negative side of things, blogging three times a week is still pretty time consuming. I’m writing this blog at 11pm on a Tuesday night for a future Wednesday posting. Also, writing three times a week does mean that I can’t do everything else I want to do for promotion and marketing because there isn’t enough time. Well, OK, that’s not quite true. A bit less mindless social media time would generate this deficit. But I digress.

I decided a couple of months ago that I should knock one blog on the head, reducing to two posts a week – on a Wednesday and a Friday. I did also have a TEDx talk to prepare for, which did take a lot of time, I introduced a regular Live session on a Monday afternoon on my Facebook page, and I planned a lot of video content to record. But I felt like something was missing. In addition, I wrote guest blogs for Eventing Nation, become digital marketing partner for The Business Barn and landed two more magazine columns (joining my NFU Countryside column) in Absolute Horse and Equestrian Life. So I haven’t been sitting on my bum doing nothing.

But something was missing… I missed writing three blogs a week!

I know, I do wonder what planet I am on most days. The facts are this…

  • I love writing
  • I get great feedback from my blog posts
  • I reach my ‘tribe’ through my blog
  • People get to know me through my blog
  • My blog helps my SEO
  • Blogs help my web traffic
  • Blogs allow me to share unique content

So, in short, I will bring back Monday blogs, because of all of the above. At this stage, I’m not going to commit to a blog each and every Monday, but that is what I would like to achieve. I’m not saying I won’t knock it back to two blogs again in the future, but at the moment, I’m back at three. And I know it’s weird, but I’m kind of excited.

So, that’s why I reduced by blogging schedule- and why I’m ramping it back up again.

How often do you blog and why?

 

How Sir Ken Robinson helped me with public speaking…

How Sir Ken Robinson helped me with public speaking…and before you get too excited, I’ve never actually met Sir Ken Robinson… although I would love to…

How Sir Ken Robinson helped me with public speaking

You may remember a little while ago I gave a TEDx talk – it was actually TEDx Malvern on 25th April ’18. I was delighted to be invited to speak and said yes quickly. And then I remembered something. I’m not all that good at public speaking. I mean, I’m far from awful- but it’s not something I do all that much of. This slight niggle somewhat grew until I really started to believe I was a horrific public speaker. I’ve given lectures before, and that hasn’t even really bothered me – I’ve enjoyed it and it’s made me think, but I haven’t been overly worried about delivering such a thing. But this? Well, this felt very different.

Why is public speaking so scary?

I guess it’s a combination of a few things. It’s the worry of making a fool of yourself and forgetting what you’re talking about. It’s the worry of letting people down who invited you to speak at their event. It’s the fear of the unknown and the anxiety connected to the unknown. It’s feeling under prepared (because there is ALWAYS more you can do). It’s what to wear (genuine thing for me – I’ve blogged about what to wear at TEDx too!). And then it’s the detail. Should you memorise your talk? How many slides should you do? How should you learn your talk? What’s the best way? What if people don’t get what you want them to from it? I mean, what if you’re just not that interesting?! Yep. Public speaking is really scary. Well, it could be.

Reality check

I was getting myself a little stressed about this. I am all for pushing myself out of my comfort zone and, as I said, giving lectures, workshops and smaller events doesn’t phase me. I do a Facebook Live once a week on my Facebook page and can think on my feet. And I ALWAYS have something to say. I know the subject inside and out. I mean, it was about social media and I am a complete social media bore… so that wasn’t the issue.

I bought a book – actually, it’s a really good book that I’m finishing a blog about this for next week – it’s called TED Talks and it’s ‘The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking’, written by Chris Anderson – the head of TED. If you’re looking to up your public speaking game- get this book (and, obviously, read my review of it too!). The book gave lots of advice and was also rather reassuring when it came to stumbles and mistakes. How to deal with them and no lose your mind mainly. That made me feel a lot better. Having a plan for if my mind went blank was very reassuring. I’m OK with things breaking – as in- I was never hugely worried about the slides not working as they were there to enhance my talk rather than play a leading role. But having a plan was good.

And you know what else? If I messed up in a big way. If I stood on the stage and couldn’t find a word in my head to speak… what is the worst thing that’s going to happen? I’d look a bit of an idiot (if you’ve seen me trying to parallel park or negotiate with my twin toddlers you’ll know that I’m pretty well versed in this art), I’d be embarrassed, my ego would take a battering. All true. Would anyone die? Nope. Would it mean I could never work again? Nope. Would it mean I wouldn’t see my family/friends again? Nope. So really low risk. And what if I nailed it or, at least, didn’t make a fool of myself? Now, that’s a worth the effort…

And how does Sir Ken Robinson feature in this?

I was speaking to Karen McConnell and Sophie Callahan – my Glam Squad – about one particular wobble. I think it was that I had decided I needed to learn all my talk off by heart, like a robot. I have never ever done any lecture prep or anything like his. Ever. I tend to have bullet points and ideas that I want to explore – mental prompts, but I don’t learn anything parrot fashion. I much prefer a little ad libing around a framework. Although this is just one way to give a speech, I was concerned that the reading-off-a-sheet idea just looks nasty – and it does… so I settled on cards. Anyway, I was speaking to the ladies and Karen urged me to watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk– are schools killing our creativity. I’ll be honest with you – the title didn’t appeal at first. I am interested in education, but that wasn’t what I wanted to hear about at that second. Nevertheless, Karen is rarely wrong and she gets me, so I pressed play and we were off.

Now, education in a TED talk format might sound a little dry – hell – I didn’t even want to press play. But I urge you to watch Sir Ken’s talk. In my mind it’s a masterclass. Not only was I completely hooked a few moment in with his relaxed and conversational style, I laughed out loud more than once, I could have listened to him speak for hours… and I have made four more people watch it since and all have has the same reaction.

Obviously I’m not talking about education and I am not half as amusing as Sir Ken Robinson, but it taught me a few things:

  • Relax
  • Chatty is good
  • Making people smile or laugh doesn’t detract from the message
  • Approachable is good
  • People will root for you if you give them a reason

Also, if you watch the talk, you’ll see that (well, if you analyse it to the level I have!), it’s not word perfect. And by that, I mean it actually is. If Sir Ken had learnt it verbatim and reguritated it parrot style without feeling, emotion or humour… it would have been a very hard 15 minutes to listen to. The human quality, the jokes, the chatty style made me feel he was sharing a thought and an idea and I was literally hanging on his every word. I’m not saying he didn’t rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again – I am sure he did- but he didn’t lose his style.

And that’s what Sir Ken Robinson taught me about public speaking… from just watching a Youtube clip.

Autheticity rules, and while some talks work when someone has memorised each and every word, some would lose their soul… especially if the speaker didn’t believe in what they were saying or felt disconnected from it.

 

Can you repost professional photographs on social media?

Can you repost professional photographs on social media?

Quote image by Sophie Callahan Photography.

In a fairly recently Monday Q and A on my Facebook page, I received a variation of this question: ‘can you repost professional photographs on social media?’. Now, I want to put this into context a little. The person who posted was asking about a rider that they sponsor. The rider had added what was clearly a professionally taken image to their social media media. So does that mean that the company can repost it? Well no, not necessarily.

Can you repost professional photographs on social media?

If I was giving a one word answer, that would be no. If, in the case above, a rider has posted a professional picture on social media, this doesn’t mean you can automatically. Even if the rider has asked permission for the photographer and this has been granted, this doesn’t automatically mean you can…

So, first of all, your rider might not have the proper permission. Many people buy prints and take pics of the prints and then post these. This isn’t right. Often, photographers will provide social media images (that can be purchased for not much money) that CAN be used on social media. Some photographers add this in a package when someone buys a print. They all don’t but some do.

Now, even if the above has been done properly, that does not mean that you as a business can repost without permission. I mean, people do, let’s be honest about this, but you need to reach out to the photographer and get their written permission for this. Some may request further payment… you don’t have to pay this. But if you decide not to pay it, do NOT repost the image. Please. It’s not good. Many photographers are happy, if the image has been purchased correctly and you credit it to let you use it on your social media. I did speak to a few photographers about this and they agreed.

What about sharing a picture?

Sharing an image from the original source is a bit different. If the photographer has posted the image and you share direct, then technically there shouldn’t be an issue here (as long as you SHARE the image, you don’t screenshot or save the image and then post as your own). Some photographers do explain on their page that they do not want this done, and some confirm that they’re happy if images are shared but no saved and posted. Respect this.

Sharing and reposting are very very different animals. Sharing and retweeting show the original source clearly… reposting should (if you use the correct apps) but doesn’t in the same way. You also move the image from the photographer (or rider’s) feed to your own and post it natively there.

If a rider has shared an image from a photographer with a watermark across it… don’t share it. Again, USUALLY, when an image has been purchased properly, the watermark is removed. This isn’t always the case for social media images but generally it is.

And what if the photograph is really good?

It doesn’t matter how good it is. If it doubt (any doubt!) always ask. Always.

Are photographers just being mean?

Sometimes you’ll find a really grumpy photographer, just like you’ll find really grumpy INSERT ANY OTHER PROFESSION HERE. But this? No, this is their livelihood. And as far as I’m aware, not that many banks take goodwill in lieu of a mortgage payment. Of course, if the image has already been purchased once (important point!), it’s to promote the rider, they sponsor the rider, or various other situations, you’re more than likely to get a ‘yes, no problem’ response. But if you don’t ask… well… you could really annoy a photographer and could be charged too.

How to make the most of your time at Badminton Horse Trials

With Badminton very much here, I wanted to share with you some of my top tips, to help you make the most of your time at Badminton Horse Trials. This is a truly AMAZING event and I can’t wait to go this year, but trust me on this, prior planning prevents poor performance. Sounds like a military operation, doesn’t it? It isn’t, but I have found my enjoyment for events has been increased 10 fold by following the advice below. It’s a bit like like advice your mum would give. But I’m doing it clad in Hiho Silver, my Mackenzie & George Fedora and my Fairfax & Favor Explorers. Horse Trials uniform if you will… so here goes…

How to make the most of your time at Badminton Horse Trials…

1. Organise. I know, I know, it’s such a boring tip, but it’s a big one. Get all your clothes organised the night before. Locate your purse/bag/car keys/ticket THE NIGHT BEFORE. Do everything the night before. Make a list of stuff you need and put as much of it in a heap by the door or even in the car. This might mean poo bags and leads if you’re taking a dog, waterproofs and umbrellas or sunscreen. Give yourself a little time to think and plan… it’ll save you running around in the morning and increasing stress levels before you get into the car.

2. Maps. Ah. Another piece of parental advice. If you have stands you HAVE to see, print off a map of the tradestands from the Badminton website and get them marked on with a pen. When you’re there, you’ll thank me. You’ll move around in a much more efficient manner, saving miles on your boots and also saving you lots of time.

** Make sure you add Hiho Silver on stand 188 – you can see the Official Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials Jewellery Collection there, Mackenzie & George in Rural Crafts, Super X Country and Eqclusive to your list of must visits!!**

3. Drinks. Drinks matter. And not the alcoholic kind. I’m notorious for the amount of water I drink (as in, nowhere near enough), but when you’re at an event and you’re running around, it’s really easy to get dehydrated. Add in some tea, coffee or alcohol and you’ll find you have a banging headache and a bad mood way too early in the day. My best bit of advice is bottled water. Get a bottle or two and pop them in your bag and drink them. I hate having headaches and find they make me feel really rubbish and definitely hinder my enjoyment of the day. This changes the game. Obviously get other drinks too when you’re there, but you know you have a supply!

4. Food. Food is a must. Make a plan to eat. There are amazing stands there but I tend to buy some food to take (almost a picnic!) and also buy something delicious there as a treat. The last few years I have found myself eating on the move, and having a sandwich and some crisps in my bag has been a big plus. It doesn’t mean I’m not visiting the amazing stands there, but it stops me having a low when I get super hungry and I’m in the middle of something.

5. Footwear. PLEASE PLEASE wear good footwear. I’m wearing my Fairfax & Favor Explorers but will also take my Rudds in case its really wet. Both of these boots are comfy, robust and durable. Please PLEASE don’t go for flip flops or heels if you’re planning to walk the XC course. Please. Come on. That’s crazy bananas.

6. Weather. Take everything you need for all the seasons. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, wellies, waterproofs, coat, etc. You don’t want to get burnt or soaked.

7. Cars. Remember where you left your car. I now take a picture of where I’ve parked the damn thing with something obvious that I can find again in the background. You’re speaking to someone who lost their car for an hour at the NEC. Always take a pic or something else that will help you find it again.

8. Bags. Take a good bag. Backpacks are great, but I’m taking my Fairfax & Favor Windsor because it has plenty of space, it’s comfortable to carry and I love it. Take something with lots of room for your essentials.

What tips did I miss? What stands are on your must-see list? I’d love to know!