The Plebgate Police Federation officers needed good PR advice

Wednesday 23rd October 2013   by Andy Comber

Police Federation officer prepare to talk to press after meeting with Andrew Mitchell

The whole row about what the three Police Federation officers said when they came out of a meeting with the then Government minister Andrew Mitchell illustrates the benefit of having access  to good PR advice before speaking to the press.

They should have realised they were in the middle of a crisis so should have followed good crisis managment proceedure. But it seems they didn’t.

Let us assume that the officers, from West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire, didn’t have a PR professional on hand on the day they met Mr Mitchell at the height of the Plebgate crisis. There has never been a suggestion that they did.

Whatever those three officers thought of Mr Mitchell’s testimony in the meeting, they knew they were going to have to answer media questions. An obvious question to come up would be, do you think Mr Mitchell should resign.

Unless, you want to take the nuclear option, a good PR advisor would assess the risks of answering that questions with a yes, and would probably suggest finding something less incendiary to say.

Having someone on hand, in the heat of the moment, and disapassionately give clear advice on simple measures to take to avoid major pitfalls – measures that seem obvious in hindsight but at that moment can be easily overlooked – is a really good idea.

It could be that the federation officers now feel that they were bounced by the media, and the moment, into making statements they now regret. It could be that they were always going to go for the jugular after the meeting, no matter what Mr Mitchell said.

Whatever the case, having a public relations expert on hand who can go through the consequences, before you step in front of the microphone, is a sensible option. And, in this case, it might have avoided all the trouble that has followed since.

They might not now be preparing to explain themselves in front of a committee of MPs, along side the chief constables who run their respective forces. I bet they will be getting some good PR advice after that meeting.

 

Embroidered Beanie Hats ready for Winter

Thursday 12th September 2013   by Stuart Bickerton

It must be a sign of winter when we’re delivering Woollen Beanie hats for our clients

Keeping our clients heads toasty but looking good with an embroidered logo is the order of the day

 

Give us a call on 01952 883526 should you wish to receive a quote

 

 

 

 

 

Good PR companies in Shropshire – Matt suggests you try us

Monday 20th May 2013   by Andy Comber

It’s really nice when someone says they like what you do. It’s even better when that someone is a client. Matt Breakwell at Cornbrook Construction has kindly provided us with a testimonial for the public relations support matm is providing.

We’re really chuffed with what he has to say. We’ve been working hard to get Cornbrook good positive press coverage. We’ve also been doing a lot of web content writing, press photography, writing case studies and revising customer letters.

Let’s face it, if the business is as dynamic, successful, ambitious and good as Cornbrook Construction, there’s always a lot to do. A public relations service doesn’t just involved writing highly effective press releases (though that’s important).

As Matt knows, good PR is about doing lots of different things – professional copywriting, video production, SEO web copywriting, sales brochures – that work together to enhance a business’s reputation and win new customers.

There’s even a new buzz phrase for it: content marketing.

Thank you for your kind words, Matt:

Good PR companies in Shropshire

matm provides excellent public relations support for Cornbrook Construction.

We only want to spend our marketing budget on activities that are targeted and we know will make a difference to our business, which is why we are happy to recommend matm’s PR services.

We get the right kind of media coverage in the right kind of publications. We get excellent copywriting support, both for sales promotion material and web content, and marketing advice, exactly when we need it, which usually means at a moment’s notice.

I can also rely on Andy at matm to get on with managing our PR requirements, allowing me to concentrate on running the business. matm’s PR service is cost-effective and delivers results. We know it is helping us win new business, and that’s what counts.

Matt Breakwell, Managing Director, Cornbrook Construction

Creative brochure design helps Shropshire coach company plan exciting days out

Monday 20th May 2013   by Lindsay Crayton

We were delighted when one of Shropshire’s leading coach companies, Elcock Reisen, commissioned matm to come up with a new creative brochure design for their 2013 excursion season.

Creative brochure design is all about creating an instant impact in a promotional document that is highly practical and easy to use.

We opted for a format that, when folded, stands out and looks appealing when placed alongside other tourist brochures.

However, when it’s opened out, it provides all the key information in one place.

Creative brochure design Shropshire

 

This year’s excursion programme takes in a number of new venues. These include Blenheim Palace and the Harry Potter sets at Warner Brothers Studio, London.

It’s great to think that thousands of Shropshire people will enjoy magical days out after being inspired by our brochure designs.

 

Creative brochure design ShropshireCreative brochure design Shropshire

 

 

 

Press releases – BNI Landlord Success event in Shropshire

Tuesday 14th May 2013   by Andy Comber

Private landlords face “double whammy” say property experts

Property experts are holding a special seminar for private residential landlords in Shropshire to inform them that they face a “double whammy” from new Government legislation.

The free Landlord Success seminar on Wednesday May 22 is being organised by members of Telford business networking group Severn Enterprise BNI.

The new Universal Credit, being introduced in stages across the UK, starting this month, will result in housing benefit being paid directly to tenants as part of a lump-sum benefit payment.

Also, the Government announced in the Queen’s Speech, on Wednesday May 8, that it intends to make it a legal requirement for private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants before handing over keys to a property.

Both measures have sparked controversy and will be debated during the Landlord Success seminar at the Wroxter Hotel, in Wroxeter, Shropshire.

Speakers from BNI will be lawyer Faye Craggs, a property expert with Darwin Matthews Solicitors, in Shrewsbury, Ellie Garbett, co-founder of Habitat Lettings in Broseley, and Mike Palfrey, owner of Salop Property Services in Telford.

The keynote speaker is Becky Owen-Jones, Benefit Welfare and Assurance Group Manager at Telford and Wrekin Council.

Faye Craggs said the Universal Credit, being phased in to simplify the benefit system, could result in an increasing number of low-income tenants falling into rent arrears.

She added: “The National Housing Federation, among many others, has raised serious concerns. It could lead to an increase in evictions and more private landlords deciding not to rent properties to benefit claimants.

“The Landlord Success seminar will consider the implications for private landlords, what they can do to protect their interests and what the Government has been asked to do to minimise these risks.”

Ellie Garbett said the plans to make landlords check the immigration status of prospective tenants, with fines for those who do not, raises some serious concerns.

She added: “Landlords may feel this is an unfair additional burden from extra red tape. It may encourage them to decide not to accept any foreign visitors as tenants, because they are worried about making a mistake.

“It is not clear, yet, how the law would work. We would not want it to unfairly penalise the vast majority of private landlords who seek to act responsibly and reasonably in managing their properties and providing a service for their tenants.”

The free Landlord Success event is for property owners considering becoming private landlords, and current landlords, who want to get the latest advice and best practice on property management.

Mike Palfrey said: “This is the first time, as a BNI group, we have organised this kind of event. We realised that, between us, we have a lot of expertise on letting out private property, so wanted to share it.

“Any private landlord, or anyone thinking of becoming a private landlord, is welcome to attend. This is an opportunity to get the latest local authority, legal and industry advice and share views.”

•    The Severn Enterprise BNI ‘Private Landlord Success’ meeting takes place at on Wednesday May 22, 6.30-9pm, at the Wroxeter Hotel, Wroxeter, Shropshire. SY5 6PH. For more information contact Faye Craggs: faye@darwinlaw.co.uk, 01743 272931.

 

Loving that! BNI Landlord Success Seminar

Wednesday 8th May 2013   by Andy Comber

Matm is a member of Severn Enterprise BNI – which meets for breakfast every Friday at the Holiday Inn, Telford. The group is hosting a Landlord Success seminar on Wednesday May 22 2013.

It’s a must-attend event for private residential landlords and property owners who are thinking of becoming landlords.

Fellow BNI members Faye Craggs, a property law expert with Darwin Matthews Solicitors, Ellie Garbett, owner of Habitat Lettings, and Mike Palfrey, MD of maintenance company Salop Property Services are among the expert speakers.

The Landlord Success seminar takes place at the Wroxeter Hotel, Wroxeter, Shropshire, SY5 6PH, 6.30pm to 9pm. If you want to attend , contact Faye: faye@darwinlaw.co.uk or 01743 272931.

Press release writing service success: Cornbrook Construction

Thursday 2nd May 2013   by Andy Comber

Here’s a press release we prepared for Shropshire construction company Cornbrook Construction about a tie-up with another Shropshire firm Quad-Lock. It was used as the business supplement lead by the Shropshire Star and several other publications.

Part of its appeal, I think, is the strong picture. Strong news media photography always helps when pitching a news story. I took the picture myself, saving the client the signficant cost of hiring a dedicated photographer. Another benefit of PR from matm!

………………………………………………………………………………………..

Cornbrook Construction is hoping to create new construction jobs in Shropshire by teaming up with design and engineering firm Quad-Lock to build the UK’s most energy-efficient homes.

The innovative building system developed by Quad-Lock is known as Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF), and involves creating hollow walls made from polystyrene, which are then filled with liquid concrete.

Cornbrook Construction, based in Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire, is already project managing the construction of a £2 million luxury home in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, using the system, and is in line to be the main contractor on future build projects.

Matt Breakwell, of Cornbrook Construction, left, with Peter Townend, of Charcon

The company’s managing director, Matt Breakwell, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us. The system Quad-Lock has developed has immense qualities and, in my view, represents the future of building design and construction. The potential is huge.

“We already have the largest directly employed labour force of any construction company in South Shropshire – and if this partnership develops as we hope it will, we will be creating a significant number of new jobs in the next 12 months.”

Quad-Lock’s logistics operation has just moved to new, larger industrial premises in Shifnal, Shropshire, as it plans for expansion after distribution rights for the building system were awarded, in 2011, to the Charcon Construction Solutions Group, a joint venture with construction materials giant Aggregate Industries.

Charcon Distribution and Product Development Manager Peter Townend said: “We are pleased to be working with Cornbrook Construction at a time when we are seeing interest in ICF grow rapidly, largely due to the critical requirement, in the current economic climate, to control build times and manage costs.”

“On top of that, our system delivers industry-leading insulation performance, to the point that, to all intents and purposes, some finished buildings can be heated sufficiently simply through heat radiated by their occupants and electrical appliances.

“Cornbrook Construction had demonstrated that it has the particular skills, experience and the right attitude to innovation to embrace the opportunities our system creates. We expect them to be excellent partners as the technique is adopted by many more clients.”

Matt Breakwell said he expects Quad-Lock’s system to be particularly attractive to the self-build homes market across the Midlands. Last year, the Government launched a £30m three-year fund to boost the self-build market.

He added: “Only about 10 per cent of new-built homes are self-built. But the Government wants to double that proportion to 20% in the next decade as part of its plans to help the construction industry out of recession and encourage local, sustainable development.

“A key consideration for people wanting to design and build their own homes is the control of costs, speed of construction and the energy efficiency of the final building. In all these cases, Quad-Lock’s ICF system offers major advantages.”

According to Homebuilding and Renovation magazine, in 2012: 11,160 self-build homes were completed in the UK; just under one third of all new detached homes were self-build; and spend on construction materials in the self-build sector was £2.95 billion.

10 tips for taking great photographs that promote your business

Wednesday 24th April 2013   by Andy Comber

It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, if it is taken properly. With the latest digital cameras and image processing, it’s easier than ever to take a picture and prepare it for use in a press release, online or in promotional material. It doesn’t always have to be professional quality photography (shocking thing to say, but true), but it must meet certain standards.

A little while ago, I put together a 10 tips for a client to give to staff who have the opportunity to take a picture. Of course, there are times when it is essential to use a professional photographer. But if you follow these basic rules and use a decent camera, you may surprise yourself at how good a picture you can take.

Putting your business in the picture

Our top 10 tips for taking publicity photographs

We know we do a lot of great work for our customers. Where we can, we like to tell others about it, either on our website or in the news media, because this will help us to win more work and keep us busy and successful into the future.

Very often, an important part of telling the story is providing a picture to show how something was done or present the key people involved. This simple guide is designed to show how to take those pictures, so they look right when published in magazines, papers and online.

1. Quality counts

The quality of the picture, often called its ‘size’ or ‘resolution’, is very important. If possible, use a decent quality digital camera. However, some mobile devices now have good quality cameras. Set the camera to the highest possible resolution. A simple rule of thumb is – if the j-peg image the camera creates, when downloaded, is 1 megabyte or more in size, it should be alright.

2. Choose your location and background

Avoid taking pictures towards the sun. This results in darkened pictures. Avoid taking pictures that need flash. It is better to go outside and use natural light. Make sure the background is clean, uncluttered and appropriate. It should not show off other companies’ equipment or logos. It should not show unsafe practises. And it should not identify any person who has not given their permission to be in the picture.

3. Put our business in the picture

The story is about our business and what we do, so it makes sense to include the company name and logo in the picture. This can be done by placing a vehicle in the picture so a logo can be shown. In addition, logos on uniforms or other equipment should be prominently displayed.

4. Show us at our best

Make sure all members of staff look presentable and wear the correct, clean uniform, including safety clothing (PPE). Vehicles and equipment should also be the most up-to-date and best condition available. They should also be correctly displayed and clean.

5. Demonstrate best practice health and safety

Health and safety standards are critical to our work. To demonstrate this, pictures taken on operational sites should clearly show that proper health and safety procedures are being followed, so there can be no doubt in the minds of the reader or viewer.

6. Not too far away, not too close

When taking the picture, do not stand too far away, so the people and equipment in it look like dots on the horizon! Also, do not stand so close, that important elements of the story, such as the location, working conditions or equipment,  cannot be seen. Make sure key elements of the picture, for example people and equipment, are shown in their entirety, and not cropped at the edge of the image.

7. Create a focus

So the picture helps tell the story, it is important to pick out the key aspects and make them more prominent. For example, if the story is about the achievements of one or two people in a team, put those people in the foreground so they look bigger in the picture. If it is about a specific piece of equipment, display that more prominently too.

8. Show it off

A story may be about a specific piece of equipment. Or it may be about an employee winning an award, or the signing of an agreement. In such cases, where a ‘prop’ is available, make sure it is prominently and confidently displayed in the picture.

9. Look – and smile!

It is important that we create a professional and welcoming impression. Therefore, make sure everyone in the picture is looking at the camera. Make sure their eyes are open (closed eyes is a common mistake!). And make sure, that everyone has a confident, friendly smile. Of course, the exception is when the story is about something very serious, in which case a neutral expression is most appropriate.

10. If in doubt – ask!

If you have any concerns about how to take the picture, contact the marketing department for advice.

Old Abe’s lessons on professional copywriting and communication

Sunday 14th April 2013   by Andy Comber

I’m in the middle of reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the book upon which Steven Spielberg based his film Lincoln. It is an excellence journey through a 50 year period during which the modern United States and a future super-power was born.

The book describes how Abraham Lincoln was selected as the presidential candidate for the new Republican Party, then invited three rival politicians he’d just beaten in the race for the nomination to become cabinet members to create a broad church political alliance as the northern Union faced the Confederate South in the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln - a brilliant communicator

Lincoln comes across as an extraordinary man: kind, humorous, self-effacing and generous of spirit to rivals and subordinates – yet hugely ambitious, calculating and single-minded in his approach to personal achievement and doing what he believed needed to be done to protect the nation’s interests. What is clear, is that one of the strands of Lincoln’s political genius was his communication skills. So here’s my view of some of them:

Story telling. Lincoln was known throughout his life, from childhood onwards, as a great storyteller. He always had an anecdote to tell to make a telling point and win an argument. He had the knack of being able to explain complex thoughts in simple terms, through telling a story that illuminated the point he wanted to get across. He also used simple, memorable language that caught the imagination. It’s no surprise his favourate playwright was Shakespeare.

Humour. Lincoln was a great joke teller and enjoyed making other people laugh. But often, he used humour to make vital political points. Also, he appeared not to use humour as a weapon, but to disarm critics and bring people onto his side.

Timing. Lincoln perfected the art of knowing when to make a point and when to stay silent, even when others around him were clamouring for him to get stuck in to a political argument. He showed a keen sense of when and where to say the right thing, for maximum effect. In politics this is vital. For example, when he announced that slaves would be emancipated, he achieved cricital acclaim, but said that, if he had made the same announcement six months before, he would have been lambasted and problably thrown out of office.

Audience. Lincoln was acutely aware of when to say what to whom. Many times, the audience he was giving a speech to was not the audiece he was actually trying to influence. He was also acutely aware of the power of the media and the need to take account of their prejudices and agendas, as much as his political rivals and public mood.

Surprise & symbolism. Just when your audience thinks you will do one thing, do something different. The Gettysberg Address is a speech given by Lincoln at the consecration of the Soldier’s National Cemetery, created to mark one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The speaker before him gave a speech that lasted for two hours, going into great detail about the battle and its historic significance. Audiences were used to very long speeches at that time.

When Lincoln got up to speak next, the crown of several thousand people would not have been surprised to hear Lincoln talk for an hour or more. Yet he gave a speech lasting just two minutes. In it he powerfully reminded the audience of the principles behind the Declaration of Independence and reaffirmed his belief that the war would bring a “new birth of freedom”. The subtext here is that he was talking about the freedom of slaves.

In this way, he used another powerful technique – symbolism – saying the soldiers who died at Gettysberg ensured the survival of representative democracy, and used the moment to cement in people’s minds the rightness of achieving another political and social objective, to end slavery, something that was still contentious, even within the Union.

It’s clear, then that Lincoln was a brilliant communicator, and he was using techniques that are just as relevant today, to anyone who wants to get their message across, influence others and achieve what they set out to achieve.

 

 

A press release service in Shropshire for stories that are used – safely

Wednesday 10th April 2013   by Andy Comber

Want to get a story published about a workshop to learn about risk assessments? Not the most catchy of subject matters for a press release. So, here at matm we found an angle that highlighted an interesting and counter-intuitive trend – recession makes business safer. The press release below was used in a substantial story by the Shrophire Star on April 2 and several other news publications.

Economic downturn is boosting safety standards – so learn how to do the job right, say Midland experts

The economic downturn blighting British industry is having one unexpected positive effect – it is improving safety standards, says a leading Midland health and safety advisor.

Marvin Owen, Chairman of the Midlands West District of the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH), is urging business managers to attend a major annual training event in Shropshire in June, saying good safety practice is becoming increasingly vital to commercial survival.

He said: “Many people might think that, when times are economically tough, companies are going to be tempted to cut corners and health and safety standards will suffer. However, we’re finding the opposite is the case.”

Mr Owen, managing director of Oswestry consultancy MBO Safety Services, added: “When the economy was strong, there was so much work that some main contractors were tempted to cut corners by hiring sub contactors who did not always use the right practices.

“Because there is less work around now, we are finding that main contractors feel they have the time and incentive to impose proper health and safety standards, and sub contractors who can demonstrate they can meet them have a real advantage.”

West Midlands IOSH is holding its one-day risk management event on Thursday 20 June 2012, at Enginuity in Coalbrookdale, Telford, Shropshire,

Business managers can attend a series of four workshops to learn how to carry out effective risk assessments in the workplace.

Emma Walker, event coordinator for IOSH West District, said: “Carrying out risk assessments is now central to safety at work, and for companies to prove they have complied with the law.

“Failure to carry out proper risk assessments is at the centre of many prosecutions which can result in huge fines, ruined reputations and the bankruptcy and even imprisonment of company directors.

“Many companies make the mistake of using generic risk assessments. The workshops will show how they can apply site and process specific risk assessments so health and safety procedures are correct at all times.”

The four workshops will cover the risk assessment process; noise assessment; control of substances hazardous to health; and manual handling. Each will be led by a Midland-based health and safety expert.

The keynote speech will be given by John Lacey, Vice-President of IOSH.

Marvin Owen said: “The increased emphasis being put on workplace health and safety during the downturn is welcomed.

“However, there are companies that, mainly through ignorance, are putting their staff, clients and the public at serious risk by failing to carry out proper risk assessments.

“Some people still wrongly see safety procedures as being a financial burden. But not carrying out risk assessments can be a major hidden cost.

“Companies that haven’t fully understood the full safety implications of the work they agree to can suffer huge financial penalties later on. Good health and safety makes good business sense.”

The IOSH West Midlands risk assessment workshops are aimed at all health and safety professionals; managers, directors and health and safety officers in small and medium-sized businesses; anyone who is responsible for assessing risk in the workplace; and anyone else interested in health and safety at work.

For more information or to book a place, email Leanne Lowther at IOSH (leanne.lowther@iosh.co.uk) or call 0116 257 3100.

Press release writing service in Shropshire – on the right tracks

Friday 22nd March 2013   by Andy Comber

Lanes for Drains solves flood mystery at major cement works

Lanes for Drains got to the bottom of persistent flooding at one of the UK’s largest cement works – and saved the company tens of thousands of pounds it expected to have to spend to cure the problem.

Lanes engineers based in Sheffield were called in to investigate the flooding of a railway track on the site of the Hope Valley cement works near Castleton, South Yorkshire.

Site managers had feared the flooding was caused by a collapsed storm drain under the track – and the only solution was to carry out a major excavation to repair or replace the pipe, requiring the track to be dug up as well.

However, by completing a comprehensive survey and cleaning programme, the Lanes engineers discovered the flooding was being caused by a hidden manhole that had been filled with ballast and silt.

Once it had been cleaned with a powerful water jetter, the flood problem was cured. This was a major boost for the cement works because the affected rail line takes coal to cement kilns. Every time the track was flooded, deliveries were delayed.

Andy Watson, Deputy Rail Manager for the site, said: “Lanes for Drains did an excellent job. We were very pleased and relieved with what their team did for us.

“Flooding had been a problem in this area for the last two years and we thought it was  caused by a collapsed pipe. We had tried many different ways to cure it but none of them worked. The matters came to a head because we had to renew the track at a cost of £60,000 so it was a must we resolved the underlying problem.

“We called Lanes for Drains in and fully expected them to tell us the pipe needed replacing. It turned out to be a catchment pit that had been mistakenly filled in by construction workers during modernisation work on the site.

“The Lanes team did a very thorough job, bringing extra equipment to fully investigate the site. When the problem was identified, they cleaned out the pit there and then. It was a very efficient operation.”

The work was done by drain blockage engineers based at the Lanes for Drains Yorkshire regional depot in Sheffield. Area Development Manager for Lanes for Drains Yorkshire James Oates said: “We’re very pleased with the outcome.

“We were determined to do all we could to identify the problem before advising that excavation was required, because of the significant cost and inconvenience that would have caused.

“We deployed our CCTV team with their HD video robot camera and an off-road water jetting machine, called a Terra-jet, to make sure we had the cleaning power to cope with the quantity of silt and waste we found.

“Because the rail tracks had been there for 50 to 60 years, there were numerous manholes which had to be located and inspected. We eventually found a hidden one that was the cause of the problem.”

At the time of the work, the site had been run by Lafarge Cement. In January, ownership was transferred to a new company, Hope Construction Materials.

Hope Valley Cement Works has been in operation since 1923. It employs 200 people producing 1.3 million tonnes of high quality cement a year, transported from the site in up to 20 freight trains every week.

Hope Valley Cement Works

Professional copywriting as a poetic apology

Friday 8th March 2013   by Andy Comber

BBC publishes article suggesting Tesco is apologisng in poetry

I was interested by this article on the BBC website pointing out that apologies aimed at customers following the horsemeat scandal looks very much like poetry, of the Shakespearian kind.

Whether it is as clever as the experts think or you believe Tesco (your choice) when it says it’s entirely coincidental, it is true that professional copywriters put a great deal of thought into what appears to be the simplest scattering of words.

In fact, it takes more skill to write simply and directly than to waffle on in verbose swathes of prose. So I’ll stop. And let Juice readers decide for themselves.

 

 

Multiplot Logo Design

Friday 8th February 2013   by Neil Dicken

Here’s a recent example of a new logo we created for a Shropshire company, MultiPlot

MultPlot are leaders in QC software for the oil and gas marine exploration industry.

 

 

 

Loving that! Creative snow designers in Shropshire

Wednesday 23rd January 2013   by Stuart Bickerton

Here at matm we like creativity in all its forms – and the wintery weather has revealed a snow sculpture in Shifnal, Shropshire, who knows how to do more than stick a carrot in the right place. Our Lindsay Hill spotted these icy masterpieces on her way to work.

Snow dinosaur designers in Shropshire

Would't want to meet this snow dinosaur on a dark night!

Storm trooper snow designers in Shropshire

That's cool - Star Wars comes to Shifnal with this Star Trooper