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Posts tagged ‘business’

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

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!

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/

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!

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/

Sheffield mobile application goes live

From left: Marc Turley, East Midlands Trains; Cllr Paul Scriven, Sheffield City Council; Brendan Moffett, Creativesheffield; John Pickering, Irwin Mitchell; Darren Pearce, Meadowhall; Tim Pryor, Lloyds TSB.

Launching today, Sheffield is set to become one of the first UK cities to have a mobile application designed for city promotion. Available for download from today, it’s compatible with both iPhone and Android systems.

This news comes hot on the heels of the launch of Sheffield’s new brand strategy and visual identity, which aims to take a more coherent and coordinated approach to marketing the city to three key audiences of Talent, Trade and Tourism.

Brendan Moffett, Director of Strategic Marketing at Creativesheffield who commissioned the application, says: “The launch of this application comes following consistent requests from the city’s business community to be armed with more materials, both printed and digital, in order to sell the city externally to clients, customers, colleagues, potential investors, visitors and acquaintances.

“Wherever you are in the world, Toronto, Tokyo or Tinsley, we want you to be able to show the people you meet how brilliant Sheffield is – simply at the touch of a button.”

The application currently has four key features: Business, an ideal way to communicate to potential investors and external organisations what makes Sheffield an attractive place to do business; Culture, a great snapshot of Sheffield’s vibrant arts, sports and entertainment scene; Photos, providing a look at modern Sheffield; and a link to join Sheffield’s LinkedIN group, allowing people and businesses to make important contacts within the city.

Councillor Paul Scriven, Leader of Sheffield City Council, comments: “It is fantastic to see Sheffield at the cutting edge of using new media to sell the city. I’m always talking Sheffield up when I meet people from around the UK and the rest of the world. So it’s great news that I can finally do Sheffield justice when explaining about our wonderful city by using the features included on the app.”

This work has received private sector support from Irwin Mitchell, Lloyds TSB, Meadowhall and East Midlands Trains.

John Pickering, National Managing Partner at Irwin Mitchell, adds: “This application will be particularly useful for organisations and individuals who are regularly asked about Sheffield’s USPs at meetings and conferences outside of the city. Being able to show people on my mobile phone will create a fantastic impression of the city and make my job a lot easier when explaining why Sheffield is a great place to live, work and do business.”

Councillor Scriven concludes: “I urge everyone to download this free tool and show it to their friends, family and business contacts so that we can all become ambassadors for this great city of ours.”

The application was designed by Iris Associates and is only the first step towards developing the city’s cross-platform communications into 2011.

Holy Smoke! Why I thank Sheffield for my divine DIY events trinity

Are you familiar with the idea of the power of three? Don’t worry, I’m not getting all mathematical on you.

I’m talking about the generally well-accepted principle that when it comes to effective communications, our brains are best at grasping information as a trio.

Of course, most of the time we aren’t conscious of the fact that many of the most inspirational speeches and phrases of our age are peppered with examples of this oral ‘trick’; ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’, ‘hook, line & sinker’ and (here comes that crucial third point) ‘signed, sealed, delivered.’  You get the idea…

Well over the last three weeks, my calendar’s certainly been shaken up (in a fantastic way) by three great events, which have definitely left their mark in my thinking.

The first one was self-generated, born out of a casual chat a few months ago, over a drink with my self-employed illustrator friend Richard Smith. ‘Why don’t we hold an evening business social, inviting contacts from the creative and commercial sector?’ we asked ourselves.

Before you can say ‘How hard can it be?’, the venue was booked, invites sent and the night was upon us. Held at Henry’s bar in Sheffield city centre, the 130-something guests we’d invited duly turned up in their droves and created an incredible buzz, no doubt buoyed by a free glass of bubbly and some complimentary nibbles.

On a serious note though, both myself and Richard were completely blown away by the response we had from our guests – and judging by the string of enthusiastic comments I had on the night and since (‘You got exactly the right vibe going – it felt friendly and inclusive which is a rare thing indeed. Best networking bash I’ve ever been to!’ Justine Gaubert, founder of social enterprise Silent Cities) it looks as though another one may well on the cards…so watch this space!

Yours truly at our event at Henry's. Photo credit: Justine Gaubert

Roll call of special thanks goes out to AV events firm CVC Event Services, who provided the PA equipment FOC, and the following local businesses who kindly donated a prize to our raffle and helped us raise £61 in ticket proceeds, in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity – We Love Sleep, Integrate Nutrition, Richard Smith Illustration, The Heavenly Cheesecake Company, PJ Taste, Tender Loving Care (TLC) and Fix-my-PC.net. Check out their links at the bottom of this post…

Back to that trinity again and the following week, I was invited to another free Sheffield event, which perfectly encapsulates the DIY ‘can do’ spirit of the city’s business and creative community – the launch of The Blue Shed, a 1,500 sqm arts venue (with performance space and fully-licensed bar), which has been converted from an old workshop by engineering firm Ekspan.

Paul Scriven Sheffield Council leader with Ekspan CEO Matthew Dronfield

Sheffield Council leader Paul Scriven officially did the honours with the unveiling of this new brand – the space was previously up-and-running under the name of the Brightside Project – and again I found myself with bubbly in hand and an unexpected spring in my step.

I was struck by the energy and goodwill – and dare I say it excitement – palpable in the air in respect to this forward-thinking enterprise. Here’s a video snapshot of the night, created by Richard Bolam Digital Media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioBKhqNX2Dc

My trio of positive experiences – in the very same weeks when the deep government cuts were slowly trickled out – ended this Friday morning, at a fantastic networking event, organised by Time2Network (http://twitter.com/time2network), held at probably the most famous eaterie in Sheffield right now (thanks to their well-deserved success in becoming semi-finalists in Gordan Ramsey’s Best Restaurant TV show), The Milestone.

Three elements (of course!) made the meet work well in my eyes – there was a diverse mix of proactive people, the venue suited the informal format and as you’d expect the breakfast was spot on. Hats off to organisers Alan Fenn, of Compass Distribution and Jon Covey of Sponduly.

So…

yes, the cuts are here

yes, our financial belts are set to get pinched like nobody’s business

YET there’s still spirit to the power of three in this city I’m proud to call my home.

Links:

We Love Sleep: http://www.welovesleep.co.uk/

Integrate Nutrition: http://www.integratenutrition.co.uk/

PJ Taste: http://www.pjtaste.co.uk/

Fix-my-PC.net: http://www.fix-my-pc.net/

Richard Smith Illustration: http://www.richsmithillustration.com/

The Heavenly Cheesecake Company: http://www.heavenlycheesecakes.co.uk/

Tender Loving Care (TLC): http://www.tlc-childcare.co.uk/

CVC Event Services: http://www.cvceventservices.co.uk/

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity: http://www.wphcancercharity.org.uk/

Silent Cities: http://www.silentcities.org.uk/

Henry’s bar: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=364882495011

Richard Bolam Digital Media: http://richardbolam.net

The Milestone: http://www.the-milestone.co.uk/

Compass Distribution: http://www.compassdistribution.co.uk/

Sponduly: http://sponduly.com/

From Sheffield to China: Chengdu trade visit hailed a huge success

Sheffield delegation get a warm welcome at Chengdu Blades (Photo: Creativesheffield)

Sheffield businesses who took part in a recent trade mission to China have hailed the trip an “out and out success”

The trade visit was organised by Creativesheffield and South Yorkshire International Trade Centre and led by Cllr Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield City Council. Paul’s participation in the visit to Chengdu came following an offer from the Chengdu Blades, the Sheffield United associated football club based in Chengdu, who strongly supported the trade mission.

The aim of the visit was to facilitate local businesses, with access to Chengdu’s business community through the links that Sheffield has built with Chengdu – Sheffield’s new partner city.

David Cross, Director of Coda Studios who took part in the trip, said: ”The Creativesheffield Trade Mission to Chengdu was an out and out success. What more can local businesses want when the Leader of the City attends to add weight and kudos to your trip? It is impossible to underestimate the importance of Cllr Scrivens attendance. He managed to open doors for us to businesses and organisations that would have taken many months to do alone. The fact that this trip was part funded and organised by Creativesheffield shows how dynamic and farsighted this city has become with regards to business and ambition.”

Another member of the delegation, Sheffield United’s group executive director Mike Farnan added: “This was probably the most important trip that representatives from Sheffield and Yorkshire have made since United’s chairman Kevin McCabe acquired the Chengdu Blades. It showcased the work that Kevin and the team have been doing in forging business opportunities for both regions.”

Joanna Lavan, International Manager at Creativesheffield who organised the mission, commented: “I am delighted that the businesses who took part in the trade mission have found it such a huge success. During the visit, Creativesheffield signed an MoU with EUPIC which will help support Sheffield businesses seeking to develop opportunities and cooperation in Chengdu. The attendance of Cllr Paul Scriven really helped to raise the profile of the delegation and the relationship between the sister cities.”

Councillor Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield City Council, concluded: “The mission has also really helped us to raise the profile of Sheffield in China. I was invited to give the opening speech at the Biopharmaceutical Forum at the EU-China Business and Technology Fair where I was able talk about Sheffield’s achievements and the city signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Chengdu Municipal Foreign Affairs and the British Consulate General Chongqing on Chengdu’s Sustainable Development into a World Modern Garden City. These will hopefully lead to further jobs and business for Sheffield.”