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Mum’s The Boss talk: How businesses can harness the power of traditional print media

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you can’t have not heard the increasing buzz over businesses building their public profile through engaging their existing customers and potential new ones through social media.

Underneath all this new-fangled noise and bluster though, if you listen very carefully you can still hear a constant older hum and it’s one which often provides the original content these digital channels so sorely need and consumers still rate surprisingly highly in terms of trust.

This older ‘hum’ was the subject of an informal talk – ‘How to harness the power of traditional media’ – I delivered to a 15-strong child-friendly networking group Mum’s The Boss, in Sheffield this Tuesday. As I explained to the group, even though social media is grabbing everyone’s attention, it’s the editorial content of traditional media, like magazines and newspapers, which still tend to set the news agenda and are likely to carry on doing so for some time to come.

I talked everyone through three simple steps towards gaining editorial coverage for their businesses: Step 1: Focus on your target media, Step 2: Uncracking the print media code (what makes titles tick & how consumers regard editorial) and in Step 3 I showed everyone a couple of articles I’d placed as a journalist and asked them to start thinking like editors…

Special mention goes to the ‘honourary’ female at the meeting, Jon Hilton, MD of Pulse Rate Training Ltd – and the first ever male attendee of Mum’s The Boss South Yorkshire!

Here’s 5 more top tips to help businesses create positive headlines:
• Great stories are media gold dust! Brands who understand the power of personal stories have more success connecting with their audience, being remembered and creating brand loyalty.
• If you don’t already know your target media, research it! Buy the title & study it or look at their online offer. If they have website, look on advertisers section as will have details about their audience demographic, official circulation figures and other useful info.
• When you’re ready to approach a title with your story, write a short, well-written and informative press release, include a photo & always email to a named journalist/section editor. Build connections with these journalists – you might not strike lucky at first but learn to understand what they’re looking for as they are the gatekeepers to unlocking great editorial coverage.
• In many national female consumer magazines (and some newspapers or trade titles) if you are talking about your personal story to highlight your business it’s often acceptable for your website details to be featured in the article. Many womens’ magazines also permit copy approval to interviewees (this will mean final version of the article will be read to you over the phone) – if in doubt, ask.
• Once your story is out in local press, be aware there is a good chance it will get picked up by national media – (this is how many national stories are still sourced by journalists).

So don’t believe the hype. Print isn’t dead (not quite yet anyway). And great editorial coverage still has immense value.

http://www.mumstheboss.co.uk/syorkshire/index

Sheffield tops bill as UK’s most productive Creative and Digital City

Ventana House at Sheffield Digital Campus, image supplied by Creativesheffield

Sheffield is the leading city for Creative and Digital Industries (CDI) in the UK and the most productive of all the cities assessed, according to a recent study.

Between 2003 and 2009, Sheffield’s CDI sector grew at a faster rate than the UK average and all 5 comparator cities – Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol says the report by Trends Business Research Ltd.

James Wilson, Investment Manager for the Creative and Digital sector at Creativesheffield, said: “These fantastic results reinforce the fact that Sheffield excels in the Creative and Digital Industries and is real testament to the hard work and commitment that the companies who operate in the city devote to their work.

“This growth is also reflected in the take up of office space within the innovative Sheffield Digital Campus. The latest high-profile edition to Ventana House at the Digital Campus is the entertainment and communications giant Sky who is creating over 500 new jobs in the city. This has been a welcome boost to the city’s economy and the profile of the sector.”

Toby Hyam, Managing Director of Creative Space Management, added: ““Our specialist centres such as Electric Works at the Digital Campus are, despite everything, seeing higher levels of occupancy than ever before. There is no doubt that, for many small businesses, competition is particularly tough and trading conditions remain uncertain. Yet despite these challenging conditions, it is impressive to see businesses investing in new workspace both to improve their competitive edge and to create opportunities for growth.”

The report found the digital sector in the City Region to contain over 6,000 CDI firms, employ 20,900 people and create a turnover of over £1bn. The largest sub-sector was found to be Hardware and Computer Services, followed by Software. Sheffield exhibits particular distinctiveness in relation to the Craft and Design sub-sectors – providing a nod to the city’s manufacturing heritage.

Wilson continued: “The CDI companies within the city have achieved some fantastic accolades. A few examples include: Zoo Digital, which makes software for interactive DVDs, is gaining recognition in Hollywood; digital communications from QUBA has helped organisations like the BBC, Channel 4, Land Rover and the Carbon Trust to embrace the digital age; and WANdisco, a world leading infrastructure software provider based in Silicon Valley, established their European headquarters in Sheffield in 2008 helping Sheffield to become a world leader in replication software technology.”

Sheffield is also part of the Digital Region – the first major regional deployment of superfast broadband in the UK. “This provides Sheffield with a unique opportunity,” added Wilson. “Sheffield is quickly becoming the most connected city in the UK and has proved itself as a genuine leader in the Creative and Digital Sector. Therefore, in an age of austerity, Sheffield faces a bright future. The challenge for the city is to ensure that it continues to innovate and grow in order to capitalise on the USP that this creates.”

http://www.electric-works.net/

http://www.quba.co.uk/

http://www.zoodigital.com/

http://www.wandisco.com/

2Weeks 2MakeIt 2011 is open for applications

2Weeks 2MakeIt 2011, a ground-breaking music video competition taking place in Sheffield which randomly matches filmmakers with musicians to collaborate to create a music video, from start to finish, in just two weeks, is now open for applications.

Organised by the South Yorkshire Filmmakers Network (SYFN), the competition – in its fifth year – invites competitors to make their new films, in preparation for a Gala Competition Screening of all the work in late May/early June 2011 at the Showroom Cinema.

Dr Rob Speranza, 2Weeks 2MakeIt Coordinator and Producer/Head of Operations at SYFN says: ‘There are great prizes in this year’s competition, including a cash prize, a record distribution contract, some development awards for musicians and fantastic ‘2Weeks 2Make It’ beer from Peak Ales.’

Those who are selected as competitors will be invited to a launch event taking place at the Sensoria Festival of Music and Film in Sheffield on 5 May 2011, at the Showroom/Workstation, Paternoster Row, S1 2BX.

‘During the daytime on the 5 May, we’ll merge our 2W2MI Industry Day with the Sensoria PRO Day,’ explains Dr Speranza. ‘There will be some great training sessions and masterclasses aimed at both filmmakers and musicians, providing guidance about making music videos, getting the most out of your budget, what clichés to avoid and much more!’.

That evening all the competitors will be randomly matched. ‘That’s when we say, ‘GOOD LUCK! You’ve got 2WEEKS 2MAKE IT!!’’ says Dr Speranza. The deadline to complete the videos will be exactly two weeks from the launch, on 19 May.

For more information about 2Weeks 2MakeIt check out SYFN’s short film about the competition on their website: http://www.syfn.org/2weeks.html

2Weeks 2MakeIt 2011 application forms are available on http://www.syfn.org/2weeks.html, or by emailing Dr Rob Speranza directly on Rob@syfn.org or speranza@btconnect.com.

For more information about Sensoria visit: www.sensoria.org.uk.

http://www.syfn.org/2weeks.html
www.sensoria.org.uk
http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/

Social media and events taking centre stage for new Culture Forum

Silversmith Owen Waterhouse with candlestick, at Culture Strategy Launch Event. Photo supplied by Sheffield City Council

Sheffield City Council’s recently-launched culture strategy is to be supported by three special cultural events and a dedicated social media online presence, over the next 12 months.

Funded by the Council, these exclusive events and digital channels are designed to enable individuals and organisations within the grassroots cultural community of Sheffield to stay connected with each other, under the banner of a Culture Forum for the city.

Two Sheffield-based businesses have been appointed on a freelance basis by the Council to support the Culture Forum. Ben Duong, founder of The North marketing agency, is co-ordinating the three events, under the banner of The North Culture Club. While Stella Eleftheriades, director of copywriting and social media specialists, stellamedia, is taking charge of the social media and blogging accounts.

Amy Carter, Head of Arts, Museums and Cultural Promotion at Sheffield City Council says: ‘The three events will be themed around the main objectives of the cultural strategy with the first being ‘Economic Impact’ on 12th May, and will be held in conjunction with the Site Gallery. We will be showcasing a diverse range of Sheffield based creative individuals/businesses that have done some amazing work outside of the city, not just in the UK, but also internationally. For example, Human Studios currently have an exhibition of their work in a gallery in Tokyo; Nick Deakin created an illustration character for a Coca-Cola advertisement; and Forced Entertainment, a theatre performance group, will be going on a European tour from April.’

The other two events are set to take place on 8th September 2011 and 19th January 2012 and will be themed around ‘Excellence’ and ‘Participation’. During the events, follow live tweets on (hashtag) #sheffieldculture.

To join the Culture Forum on Facebook search for ‘Sheffield City of Culture’, to follow on Twitter use @sheffculture and blog posts and further information will be featured on: http://www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/culture.

Listings and notifications of events, workshops and exhibitions can be sent to culture@welcometosheffield.co.uk

Sheffield City Council’s culture strategy is a direct follow-on from Sheffield’s 2010 UK City of Culture bid and is a call to action for the people of the city to get involved and participate in cultural activity.

A blog about blogging? Shine a light!

Today is Twitter’s 5th birthday. How time flies and never more so than in the increasingly digital world of 24-hour, rolling status updates, constant link-sharing and network-building we live in.

Take blogs. I can remember a not too distant past when bloggers were regarded as quite a strange, far-removed species of geeks, who were never happier than when they were pale-faced and glued to their keyboards. Most bloggers then tended to be writers, tech-heads or both rolled into one.

Quite a few people predicted at the time, that the popularity and, up to then, increasing numbers of blogs would be on the wane – indeed that blogging was slowly dying off.

I must admit I haven’t looked into the facts and figures to back up whether this prediction has turned out to be right, but from where I’m sitting blogging is very much alive and well – with everyone who’s online either posting merrily away or seriously considering launching themselves (or their business) into the blogorati.

Why is this? In a nutshell, professional blogging as an idea has broken through the ‘geek’ barrier and gone mainstream. More and more companies are starting to recognise that if they provide blog posts with valuable and/or engaging content, what they’re effectively doing is breathing new life into their business, brand, and website SEO (Google loves blogs!) without shoving any hard-sell marketing message down the throats of their audience.

For me, my blog lies somewhere between the polar opposites of the entirely professional and the bearing-my-soul personal platforms. Not only do I think this space is a great place to not only share some of my ideas/musings, provide updates on my work and other snippets I hope you, dear readers, find interesting, but I also see it as the perfect vehicle to showcase fantastic events, organisations and businesses I come across in my professional and personal comings and goings.

So with this in mind, ladies and gents, drum roll please as I proudly present….

the stellamedia spotlight – a brand new regular section of my blog, which I’m already thinking of as my own bespoke and inspirational ‘feel good’ newspaper. If you want to be featured or know someone who might, just drop me a line at stellamedia@googlemail.com.

Watch this space for the first business ‘star’ I’ll be highlighting soon….

Happy Blogging!

Inspiring change in Mexico City

Guest blog by Emma Wass, who is a trainee broadcast journalist at the University of Sheffield, presenter/producer at Sheffield Live! 93.2fm and publicity officer for theatre company The Company

I had an amazing trip to Mexico last year with my friend Cecilia and completely fell in love with the country and people. During my stay I visited a friend from university, Andy, who was volunteering at a home for street children in Mexico City, Casa Alianza. Mexico City is one of the most overpopulated cities in the world, with over 20 million inhabitants.

So I got to know about Casa Alianza through Andy, and even met some of the teenage boys one day when I went with them to a football match. They were so friendly, enthusiastic and interested in me and the UK, asking dozens of questions, I was really touched. Andy had told me some of the boys’ back stories, and I suppose I had expected them to be much more introvert, unhappy and quiet. They were completely the opposite; a great credit to the charity and the work they do.

The children found on the streets are from a variety of backgrounds. Some are orphans, others have been abandoned by their families, others are victims of abuse. Casa Alianza gradually gets the children off the streets and into their residential programme, and then helps with their rehabilitation and education. Some children are reintegrated back into their families, others go back to school or find work.

I was urged to raise money for them at the end of last year because they had a fire and the home was completely destroyed. The children are all still in temporary accommodation and they have a long way to go before they have enough funds to rebuild Casa Alianza.

So I’ve organised a fun, Latin-themed night at local tapas bar and restaurant Cubana on Sunday 13th March to raise money. 50% of the ticket sales for ¡Noche Latina! will go directly to Casa Alianza. Tickets include a tapas dinner, a welcome cocktail, Salsa, Merengue and Rueda lessons (no experience required!) and a DJ for the evening. There will also be a raffle, which is included in your ticket, and we have some great prizes so far, including 2 tickets to see Sweeney Todd at the Lyceum theatre.

Tickets (£20) can be bought through my Sponduly site: www.sponduly.com/casaalianza.htm.

Any problems or queries please contact me directly on 07738 249412 or email emmawass@hotmail.co.uk.

This is a charity that is little known in the UK, and I want that to change. Casa Alianza has four homes throughout Central America which really are lifelines for hundreds, even thousands of children each year. You can find out more about the charity on their website www.casa-alianza.org.uk.

Follow Emma on Twitter: http://twitter.com/emmawass

A House of Languages? Now you’re talking…

Guest blog by Elizabeth Birks, a language professional, who is based in Sheffield, UK

It’s not exactly a new notion, but I’ve recently become interested in an idea which Professor David Crystal has been talking about since around 2000 – establishing a House of Languages in the UK. Back when the beginnings of this idea were forming – around the time of the Millennium – there seemed to be an appetite for it, the money seemed to be there and plenty of influential people were backing the idea…then BANG! The closest we’ve probably ever got to seeing a House of Languages being set up, got blown out of the way by the Millennium Dome of course!

Well it dawned on me that maybe we could create something along the same lines in South Yorkshire. We have plenty of people here who speak different languages. How many? Well according to their website, there are about 150 languages offered by SCAIS (Sheffield Community Access & Interpreting Service) so presumably there are people in the region who speak those languages. Moreover, South Yorkshire. I’m putting the idea out there and asking:  Why don’t we give this a go?

I’ve found a funding body that seems to be looking for a project like this to give some initial funding to. I can imagine the project would need some initial investment to help it get going before it can provide an income for many people, but it could be really fun and maybe in the future, lucrative as well.

Just think that someone who speaks Cantonese, say, could come along and let us record their voice while they are singing a folk song, or telling a story, or even having a conversation with a friend! I think it would be fantastic if the project had a physical location so that people can actually go there to meet other participants, see/hear experiences or stories which have been collected and listen to different languages to see how they are written or watch videos of people searching for lost languages. I also envisage a House of Languages as having the potential to become a pretty big online presence.

Sheffield Community Access & Interpreting Service

What do you think about this idea? Does a House of Languages make you think, ‘now you’re talking’?

If so, or if you know of people who might like to get involved in getting this idea off the ground in some way, please get in touch with me and I’ll pass your details onto Elizabeth.

Happy talking!

Welcome to 2011: Time for a virtual facelift & Network Hub night!


There’s nothing like seeing in another year to make us reflect on the past – and look to the future. If we’re lucky, we learn a few handy lessons along the way too.

It’s a year since the launch of the copywriting side of the business kicked off, which I proclaimed in my first blog post of 2010 (in the midst of deep snow, just like recent weeks!)

So what was my big professional lesson of last year? Network, network, and network! That’s how I connected with my first copywriting clients and I’ve found face-to-face networking to be fruitful, as well as fun. Some events are more ‘me’ than others, but building business relationships and my company profile this way is something that’s become vital to my working week.

Which brings me to…drum roll please, ladies & gents…Network Hub – the new name for the business social events I put together with another creative professional and friend, Richard Smith. Last Thursday evening, we held our first do of 2011 at the Showroom Cinema Cafe, in Sheffield.

Just like our launch event in October, we were thrilled with the turnout – about 70 proactive guests! By the amount of chatter that hardly seemed to let up, many new connections and re-connections were made over a few drinks, in a relaxed atmosphere, which is exactly what our evenings are all about.

The snapper (yours truly) gets snapped @ Network Hub, Showroom Cinema Cafe, 20/1/11. Photo credit: Elizabeth Birks

Check out a couple of the much-appreciated positive comments received after our big night:

‘I haven’t been to a formal networking event for a long time and to be honest, I was concerned and a bit fearful. My fears were assuaged, however, as I began to meet so many lovely people. As a group worker, I know that a good event reflects the people who set it up and this was an evening of warmth and genuine interest in other people. I found it an atmosphere conducive to meeting people and making connections.’ Valerie Monti Holland, www.leftluggagetraining.co.uk

‘Thanks for the invite & hospitality again last night. There seemed to be a good mix/good buzz/plenty of conversations and connections. Well done, you are a star!’ Jim Lawson, www.be-sy.co.uk

Our next night’s coming in April so watch this space! In the meantime, our fresh website look’s now live and loud. Any thoughts about the revamp would be most welcome….

Here’s to a fabulous 2011 one & all!

http://www.richsmithillustration.com/

http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/

Move over, Santa Claus – Sponduly.com’s coming to town!

Imagine getting the investment you really need to get your project off the ground? You’re there. Right, now imagine that investor turning round to you and saying they didn’t need you to pay their money back. Yes, you heard right.

Now you might be thinking I’ve had one too many cheeky Christmas Sherries, but not I’m talking the stuff of fairy tales or elves. Instead, I’m spreading the word about Sponduly.com – a very real entity which epitomises the goodwill and generosity we often limit to sharing just around this time of year.

Based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, founder and managing director of Sponduly.com, Jon Covey, explains more: ‘The idea for Sponduly started forming in my head about August this year, after I read a message from someone on LinkedIn, who was asking if anyone wanted to work with him for free, as a non-executive director. Reading that, I realised there were many people who’d work for free simply to help others and I also knew lots of people who needed that help. Sponduly.com is a community platform, which brings these two groups of people together.’

After months of hard work, developing the site and promoting Sponduly.com, primarily by word of mouth and social media activity, Jon’s brainchild continues to grow and currently has 12 live projects, who are seeking funding and any other support which could be offered, by one of the 89 members, who’ve signed up to the free media hub.

Jon’s idea could be considered to be particularly timely, considering the government recent policy strategy surrounding the idea of a ‘Big Society’, because Sponduly.com exists to support charities and community-based projects, as well as small, start-up businesses or enterprising individuals.

Jon is looking forward to more people to sign up to the media hub for free, as well as further projects coming onboard the good ship Sponduly.com.

So if you’re looking to spread some Christmas cheer all year round, don’t wait for Santa to pop down your chimney. Simply check out: http://www.sponduly.com/

Join Sponduly on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Sponduly

Follow Sponduly on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spondulycom/160036084018631

Merry Christmas one & all!

Review: Andy Kirkpatrick ‘Off the Wall’

Andy climbing El Cap. Photo: Speakers From The Edge

For those who’re not familiar with Sheffield, the city has a thriving climbing and general ‘outdoors’ culture, thanks largely to its geographical make-up (built on seven hills, located a stone’s throw away from the Peak District). So last week, when I attended ‘Off the Wall’ – a talk by experienced internationally-acclaimed mountaineer and comedian Andy Kirkpatrick, at The University of Sheffield, I expected the climbing fraternity to be out in force. Yes, the weather was arctic, but I couldn’t help thinking the ‘extreme’ conditions were rather apt (I arrived in walking boots, feet buried in two pairs of thick socks).

A quick once-over of the audience revealed a wide cross-section of young and old with a healthy balanced male/female ratio, who clearly hadn’t been deterred by the cold either. Once Andy launched into his show, we were soon hit with great doses of heart-warming humour and gentle semi-confessional observations, as he took us on a journey to try to understand what lies at the bottom of his inherent urge to climb, with the aid of stunning photography revealing some of the many wild places he’s conquered.

I’m not a climber (although I’m a passionate hill-walker) but my lack of knowledge or experience, didn’t affect my enjoyment of the night, as Andy’s well-paced show has a universal appeal – it’s a stand-up show, adventure photo-mentary and motivational talk all rolled into one.

One iconic mountain Andy focuses on is El Capitan, in California’s Yosemite Park. As he tells us he’s climbed El Cap, as it’s often called, 18 times, there’s no hint of alpha male, puffed-up chest posturing. Instead Andy gave us a hilarious anecdote about the merits of using pain au chocolat as a universal, language-busting measuring system, when explaining dimensions to fellow climbers from far-flung corners of the globe.

Andy on the Reticent Wall, El Cap. Photo: Speakers From The Edge

One point in the show really struck an inspirational chord with me, when Andy spoke about the thin line between bravery and zaniness/stupidity, which can equally apply to intrepid mountaineers, as it can in other areas of life. If the crazy, madcap or maverick survive their hare-brained adventure to tell their tale, they’re hailed and remembered as heroes.

Speaking to Rebecca Varley, of Sheffield-based company Speakers From The Edge, who organised ‘Off the Wall’ and also represent the best motivational speakers from the world of adventure, exploration and human endurance, after Andy’s show, she explained how Andy tailors each show to his audience, so Sheffield’s version had a bit more ‘climber speak’ than others in the tour. Maybe I know more about climbing than I thought!

Andy’s obviously a natural climber and fantastic entertainer to (well-trodden) boot. Go see him, if you want to experience a unique night that which takes comedy & motivational speaking to new undiscovered heights.

Andy’s last date of this current tour is on Monday 14 February 2011, at the Buxton Opera House. Click the following link for more information:

http://www.speakersfromtheedge.com/node/219

Interested in buying an ‘Off the Wall’ DVD? Click the following link:

http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/shop/product/off_the_wall

To find out more about Speakers From The Edge visit:

http://www.speakersfromtheedge.com/

Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SpeakersEdge/

Follow Andy Kirkpatrick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/psychovertical