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Archive for the ‘Professional Diary’ Category

Farewell to self-employment, hello again to the stellamedia blog…

Yes, you read right. Do not adjust your screens folks. After over 11 rollercoaster years of being a sole trader [journalist > copywriter > blogger > PR > social media consultant. Phew!] I’m thrilled to announce I have been appointed in a full time permanent job, which begins next month.

My new role is Social Media and Content Manager of Patient.co.uk – already one of the most trusted online medical information and support websites in the UK. Exciting changes and developments are ahead for this brand in 2012 and beyond.

My base remains here in wonderful Sheffield and over the next few weeks I’ll be revamping and removing the ‘business’ aspect to this site – turning it back into its original incarnation as a lifestyle blog, created just for fun & hopefully to inspire, inform and entertain.

I anticipate I’ll be sharing my thoughts/ideas/photos focused on my interests, including food, culture, Sheffield life, plus now and then I’ll talk about branding, social media, the art of storytelling in communications et al.

So this isn’t really a goodbye post…just a THANK YOU to everyone, whether you’re a current or former client, collaborator, like-minded business, fellow media or creative type, for supporting me and my business in so many ways.

In future, I’ll still be tweeting under @stellamedia. Plus, I’ll continue to provide social media content for the Sheffield Culture, under my freelance role for Sheffield City Council.

So don’t forget to keep me posted on any cultural/creative/sport etc info that’s Sheffield-related to me by emailing: culture@welcometosheffield.co.uk, tweeting news to @sheffculture [or sharing with the Twitter community via #sheffculture] or posting relevant info on the ‘Sheffield City of Culture’ Facebook page.

Farewell for now dear readers…and see you on the other side! ;0

Network Hub 5 : Google Maps 0

Last week, I discovered just how many of us rely on Google Maps when we’re getting ourselves from A to B, when our fifth Network Hub – the relaxed, evening business social events I co-organise with Richard Smith Illustration – rolled around again at a newly-opened coffee bistro-cum-bar, Brezza.

To answer the above question: it’s a lot! The first inkling I got that the good folk of Google had their co-ordinates for Brezza slightly astray was when I got my first phone call from my co-organiser, Richard, who’d never visited the venue before. ‘I followed Google Maps and I’m lost!’ After I directed him to the right spot, the texts & calls then started rolling in thick and fast from more confused and disorientated guests, who’d been relying on their virtual maps to get to the bar [which in case you’re wondering is round the back of Henry’s Bar, on Wellington Street, Sheffield.

After lots of apologies on my part [on behalf of Google!] my slightly panicked state subsided as Brezza started filling up with our guests and the chat started flowing just like on our previous nights…

From my twitter feed, here’s a flavour of some of the feedback I received from our guests about the event:

From @TOSSsheffield: Thanks @stellamedia for a lovely evening at #networkhub

From @moorscreative: Good night tonight network hub 5. I can highly recommend. Thanks @stellamedia. See you at the next one.

From @komoonko: Had the most wonderful time at #networkhub lovely inspiring people @stellamedia @missiecindz Jennifer Booth, Stephen Saville, Richard Smith

From @missiecindz: thanks for a lovely evening – it’s always great seeing you and meeting new people. See u at the next #networkhub gathering

To follow Brezza on Twitter click here

One last word relating to the Google Maps mini saga – well done to Patrick Jackson, who successfully found us thanks to writing down address details on a trusty PostIt note.

Sometimes the old ways are still the best ;-)

Electric Works win national Innovation Award

Photo by Tracey Welch: http://www.traceywelch.co.uk/

How much does your environment affect your well-being, both professionally and personally? It’s a question that’s been at the forefront of my mind recently and I’ve concluded the space I’m in, really makes a massive difference to my outlook and frame of mind.

Over the last month, my reasoning about this has been put to the test and proved absolutely right, because I’ve already felt the incredibly positive benefits of working from a new professional base – the dynamic, state-of-the-art hub for creative and digital industries and arguably one of the most prestigious business addresses in Sheffield, Electric Works, at Sheffield Digital Campus.

As a Club Member at Electric Works, I enjoy 24 hour, 7-day access to the open-plan and wonderfully-quirky plug-in-and-work facilities, hot desking Club Lounge, as well as free use of the uber-smart meeting rooms weekday evenings and weekends. It’s a space to work, interact with other creative professionals, meet clients and business associates, all right from the heart of the city.

This week, I was thrilled to hear the news that Electric Works had scooped a coveted accolade, when it was named winner of the British Council for Offices [BCO] national Innovation Award.

It’s the first time this award has been won in Sheffield and the BCO commended Electric Works not only for its impressive architectural designs, but also for its programmes of interaction between its occupiers.

On top of this, the BCO commented on the growth of Sheffield’s creative, digital and technology sectors, praising Electric Works for being at the centre of these developments, and for the wide variety of flexible services it offers to freelancers, sole traders and larger businesses.

Since working here, I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m relishing my new surroundings. So when Electric Works set about promoting their win, I was asked to represent the Club Members in a publicity photo shoot with Tim Cooper, of Team Cooper, also stepping up to the PR plate, as one of the resident businesses here.

Here I am pictured above, in the Coconut Lounge area of the building [I’m second left] with:

Tim Cooper [second right], Toby Hyam, Joint Founder and Managing Director of Creative Space Management, who manage Electric Works, [far right] Paul Taylor, Joint Founder and Managing Director of Creative Space Management [far left], Electric Works Centre Manager, Louise Jamieson [third left] and, from Sheffield City Council, Cllr. Helen Mirfin-Boukouris [third right].

Congratulations EW for your well-deserved win!

To read more about this BCO awards win click here

Or check out the full story on the Electric Works blog here

Putting your heart into networking

Regular readers of my blog, or those who know me in person through the business network circuit in and around South Yorkshire, won’t be surprised to learn I found myself at another opportunity to meet some new professional contacts earlier this month.

What might be an eye-opener though, is that this all-female group not only announced a new name change, but also ended up being lined up for a completely impromptu photo shoot!

Say hello to the Women Inspiring Women group, in the photograph above by Jackie Clitheroe [Yours truly is 8th from the left].

During the meet Carol Denton, fundraiser for South Yorkshire Heart Appeal, also gave an enlightening presentation about her work and the challenges of raising awareness about heart disease in our region, especially amongst women.

Women Inspiring Women [WIW], organised by Jan Roebuck and Kay Jepson, meet the second Thursday of every month, 10am-12.30pm, at Tankersley Manor Hotel.

The stellamedia spotlight shines on…Mark Elliott, director of House of Logos

Whenever I bump into or think of Mark Elliott, that well-worn phrase about people who ‘wear their hearts on their sleeve’ often pops into my mind. In Mark’s case though, as he’s a director of Attercliffe-based promotional product manufacturing company, House of Logos, it’s much more apt to talk about ‘wearing your badges with pride…just about everywhere!’

Formed in 1975, House of Logos Ltd is a true Yorkshire family company run by father and son, John and Mark, which supplies all types of promotional items for businesses – from pens and pencils to conference folders.  Time for a chat with Mark…

By the sound of it the range of products you’re able to produce as a company is huge Mark. Do you specialise in any one area?

Yes, we specialise in the production of hallmarked sterling silver and 9ct gold, base metal-enamelled lapel pins, tie bars and cufflinks depicting company logos or product ideas. They’re ideal for company sales awards, anniversaries, conferences, incentives, exhibition giveaways and promotions.

What have been your proudest moments in business over the years?

One of our proudest moments was in 1991 when we were commissioned to produce items for the World Student Games held in Sheffield and were asked to produce a special lapel pin that was presented to the Princess Royal.

In more recent times, House of Logos has been involved in mentoring and charity work too. Tell us more…

As our company has gone from strength to strength, we’ve branched out into manufacturing and supplying a full range of promotional items for business, specialising in sterling silver and base metal enamel badges that are used for a variety of reasons.

House of Logos has helped many charities by creating enamel badges that are resold to the public as part of their marketing campaigns. Recently, I’ve been working within schools and colleges too, acting as a business mentor for the Big Challenge project. I’ve very keen to help young business people and develop their ideas, as I believe we should encourage a realistic can-do attitude to build the confidence they will need to succeed in business.

You not only won an award for your mentoring work, but your involvement also led to a new charity-focused project too hasn’t it?

That’s right. I’ve embarked on a new project with Sheffield NEA College student Chris Simpson. We’ve produced a website – www.yorkshirebadges.co.uk - to promote and raise money for Yorkshire Charities, by selling metal enamel and precious metal hallmarked Yorkshire Rose badges, lapel pins and cufflinks. There’s no cost to the charity and businesses can help by adding a link to their websites and nominate a Yorkshire charity they would like to support.

So if you live or have a business in Yorkshire, then we’d like you to wear the White Rose badge with pride!

House of Logos Ltd:

www.justbadges.co.uk
www.houseoflogos.co.uk
www.yorkshirebadges.co.uk

Our right Royal networking knees-up!

Madame Zucchini's Kate & Wills. Photo by Richard Bolam http://richardbolam.net/

On the eve of the recent Royal nuptials – last Thursday, 28 April 2011 – we were delighted to swing into celebration mode for an altogether different reason. That’s right, it was time to host another of our informal business socials we arrange in collaboration with Sheffield-based illustrator Richard Smith.

Back for a third round of business buzz, for Network Hub 3 we decided to choose a different location yet again – an independent bar in the heart of Leopold Square in the city’s centre, the rather swish La Foret. With a smart outside terrace area to enjoy, we also virtually had the run of the contemporary space inside, thanks to the generosity of La Foret’s owner, Sam Cooper. Cheers Sam!

Photo credit: Richard Bolam http://richardbolam.net/

From the positive feedback I had on the night – and have received since – the 70-odd strong crowd who came along not only relished the informal, relaxed atmosphere but also cemented existing connections & made fresh contacts on the night – and I’m pleased to say so did I.

Dr Rob Speranza, left, Head of Operations at South Yorkshire Filmmakers Network, with, right, crowdfunding enterprise Sponduly.com founder Jon Covey Photo credit Richard Bolam http://richardbolam.net/

While we didn’t have a strict policy of ‘no talking shop’ the pressure I think many people feel at networking events – the idea of ‘selling’ yourself – tended not to rear its pushy head at this Network Hub, or at the previous two nights we’ve hosted.

Perhaps that’s because I’m a great believer in finding out about the person behind a business, not simply the business itself.

As for Will and Kate, they weren’t entirely forgotten. Instead the couple were especially honoured on the night by Sheffield’s wonderful vegetable theatre performer, Madame Zucchini, who brought her own delectable edible version of the duo along for the networking ride.

So three cheers to Network Hub 3. Long live Network Hub!

The stellamedia spotlight..shines on Maxine Hayter, director of Bespoke Blinds & Poles

Anyone who meets Maxine Hayter – who provides informed and honest sales advice, as one half of the husband and wife director team behind leading Sheffield independent blinds specialists Bespoke Blinds & Poles Ltd – is left in no doubt about the passion and commitment herself and hubby Neil (who’s in charge of all fitting and installation) have for their business.

Launched in 2007, Bespoke Blinds & Poles Ltd have two showrooms in the city – one in Beauchief and the more spacious location in Hillsborough has just celebrated its 1st birthday. Time for a chat…

Happy Birthday to your Hillsborough showroom Maxine. What’s new?
Cheers, Stella. Loads of new stuff is going on here. The sunshine always brings our customers to us – either for blackout blinds, especially now the clocks have changed, or for advice on cutting down heat and glare in rooms, especially conservatories.
Awnings are this years’ must-have, and we’ve taken on a new supplier making our offer much broader (we get inundated with requests to open accounts with people, and it takes a while to meet them all, vet the quality of their products and make a decision!)

At this time of year we always get updated ranges in as well, so we start considering new display products. As you kindly mentioned, we’ve just completed our first year at our second showroom, and that’s been exciting for us as well. Our staff; Danielle and Emma; have really settled in, and are now an integral part of the team. As members of the BBSA (British Blinds & Shutters Association) we’re committed to raising awareness of Child Safety in the industry. One of our suppliers has brought out two new, innovative control mechanisms which sit superbly within our recommended ranges and safety product ranges, so we are busy promoting these to our customers old and new.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as an independent business?
One of the main things for us is finding time! Our customers come to us for quality products and quality advice, and our installation service is an integral part of this. This makes diary time, and appointments, very precious – luckily our customers understand and wait (and we always have a “cancellation” list on the go, although it’s rare we get any!)
Another one is footfall. The majority of our products are bespoke, and not something you would want to purchase over the internet. We try and get our presence out there in the virtual world by as many means possible so that our customer can glean as much info as possible (should they want to) before they visit us. We want our customers to see that we are worth the effort of a visit!

Here’s a magic wand. What three wishes will you make? (for business or pleasure)
Only three! Here goes…….
Business 1: I would like anyone considering dressing a window to think, before anything else “I wonder how Bespoke Blinds & Poles would handle this one?”
Business 2: I would like an eight-day week, so we can still open for six of them (as now), and have two days off work!
Pleasure: I would like more time to go hiking (our favourite pastime) especially in this lovely weather.

Pass it on. Your biggest business lesson?
Just because “experts” say it’s a great idea, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Stay focused on your core products – too much diversification will weaken your offer.

And the worst commercial mistake, you readily admit to?
Spending a fair amount of money on a marketing promotion from a cold call! This was when we first opened, and taught me very quickly to do your homework before committing to anything. I’m still mad with myself about that one!

Your favourite places in Sheffield (for business or pleasure)?
Definitely the open spaces and the pubs! We are so lucky as a city to have the space we have – most weekends were spent in Greno Woods, Longley Park (when they had the open air swimming pool – no comments on age, please ;-)) and Hillsborough Park. When I met Neil, we spent Sundays in Graves Park with his daughter Gemma.
Pubs – I love the Thornbridge Brewery atmosphere and our local is the Coach & Horses at Dronfield. There’s also a great pub at Holmesfield; the Rutland Arms; which was bought by a great couple just over a year ago. Both these pubs let dogs in, so we get to do a hike, and finish with a great, well-kept pint.
I don’t get to Sheffield City centre too much, but I enjoyed a lovely lunch in Henry’s on Cambridge Street the other week and in all three cases the staff and service is impeccable. I learnt a long time ago that service is as important as the product. It’s what we strive to provide in our business, and I am always appreciative of it when I enjoy it in other businesses.

Bespoke Blinds & Poles Ltd:
http://www.sheffieldblinds.co.uk/