You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2009.

Last year we were asked to research and write about the myths surrounding the use of remanufactured printer cartridges.  You’ve all heard the one about it invalidating your printer warranty?  I thought so … it’s always at the top of the myths league. 

As we suspected, these quality and invalidation claims are nonsense.  We’re not alone in using remanufactured cartridges for our printers and guess what?  They work perfectly, they last just as long, and haven’t damaged our printers in any way so we’re quids in! 

Did you know printer ink is probably one of the most expensive liquids in the world?  Some cartridges contain only a teaspoonful of ink.  This works out to a price of over £2,000 a litre!  No wonder the manufacturers are so keen to sell it.  In copywriting terms, that probably equates to us charging around two grand per paragraph!

In the mid-90s, charities recognised the potential revenue for recycling printer cartridges.  As I was working in the charity sector at the time, I was responsible for setting up a number of recycling schemes. 

Each year in the UK alone, we’re still chucking several million pounds worth of ‘empties’ into landfill sites.  Imagine what your local hospice or other good cause could do with that sort of money. 

Not only is important to recycle your empty cartridges for environmental reasons, its also critical to reduce your costs in the current climate.  I had a conversation this morning with two of the account managers from Phase Office Supplies in Chertsey, the company which commissioned the ‘myths’ piece of work.  They were telling me the price of ‘original’ cartridges has increased recently by up to 30%.  Some of that is down to manufacturer’s price hikes and the rest because of the exchange rate. 

The good news is this has increased the number of companies using remanufactured cartridges.  The Phase account managers reckon they can save their customers 40% or more on the price of their originals.  I believe it … if you’re still not convinced,  drop Sue or Karen a line and ask them for yourself. 

By the way, if your printing is only for internal use or you do a lot of rough copies, make sure your print settings are at draft.  You’ll use a lot less of that very expensive commodity and be eco-friendly too!

It’s official!  I’m jealous!  Who am I talking about?  Bearded Scottish crime ‘write-ist’ Stuart MacBride, that’s who. 

The past week has been agony … having to focus on that dreaded four-letter word (WORK – OK!) and having Stuart MacBride’s book: ‘Broken Skin’ burning a hole in my bedside table.  Now I’m not a covetous person … but my burning ambition is to write a great crime novel and if I ever find the ability, come up with an action-packed plot, or ever get-a-round-tuit, this copywriter dreams of turning author and writing like that.  Mind you, I’ve always wanted to paint like Rolf Harris and he’s at no risk either!

I got ‘Broken Skin’ from the library and picked it up simply because it was set in my hame toon: Aberdeen.  As usual I was at a disadvantage in the library … I seem to be incapable of remembering both my membership ticket and my specs.  Selecting this book would be bad news for any Aberdonian because having devoured this one, I’m going to have to go out and spend money on all Stuart MacBride’s books! 

Broken Skin was hard-hitting, fast and hilariously funny.  Stuart’s ‘gallows humour’ came through on every page and really hit the spot.  Of course there was a touch of nostalgia too … what exiled Aberdonian could resist mention of ‘rowies’, ‘quines’, and ‘teuchters’? 

I laughed at the Grampian Police healthy living campaign, ‘Fit Like’.  To translate: ‘Fit Like’ is a colloquial phrase which means ‘How are you’.  ‘Foo ye dein’ means much the same, but perhaps you’d need to have been there to really appreciate that one!  But for all the black humour, Broken Skin was a scary, tense insight into the world of serious crime. 

Stuart MacBride’s characters are real, tough, and very believable.  I’m now a big fan of DS Logan McCrae, secretly admire DI Steel, and was in mortal fear of DI Insch having an apoplexy before I got to the final page. 

So … there’s nothing else for it!  I’m off to stock up on Stuart MacBride books … oh and one on self-discipline and motivation too!  Just in case Mr MacBride becomes too great a temptation to resist.

Ken Norman and Tim Lyon

Ken Norman and Tim Lyon

This morning saw David and I battling through the traffic to attend a Business Link Workshop: ‘Beat the Credit Crunch’.  Despite icy roads, fog and rush hour traffic, we weren’t disappointed.

The workshop was developed by Robert Craven, MD and founder of the Directors’ Centre and was brilliantly presented by the intrepid duo, Ken Norman and Tim Lyon of New Tricks Training.  With their usual style and wit, Ken and Tim delivered this ‘pacey’ workshop and got us all thinking about a range of topics such as:

  • Marketing your business competitively on a small budget
  • Holding on to your customer base
  • Maximising the effectiveness of your financial strategy
  • Managing your debt efficiently
  • Identifying your best customers

Armed with workbooks, we were challenged to look hard at our practices and procedures.  We came away with a lot of great ideas about how to not just survive the recession, but to benefit from it.  Combined with the opportunity to do a spot of networking, it was a morning well spent! 

If you get the opportunity, check out the Business Link website.  They are hosting the same workshop in Milton Keynes on 22nd January 2009.  It’s well worth attending!

When you book a service you’ve never used before and without a recommendation, you have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. 
Well, my fingers were crossed yesterday … quite unnecessarily I might add.

We booked a lunch party for my father’s 90th birthday at Southsea’s Royal Beach Hotel (http://www.royalbeachhotel.co.uk).  In true Scottish style, I also arranged for Daniel Del Piccolo, a Highland Bagpiper, to play both at the hotel and afterwards at the Nursing Home where my father now lives. 

From start to finish my father’s special day was everything we hoped it would be.  From our first enquiry, the staff at the Royal Beach Hotel were helpful and professional.  Davina and Sally from the hotel’s events team couldn’t do enough to make the day a success.  We were greeted like old friends and treated like royalty from start to finish. 

Birthday party announcement!

Birthday party announcement!

I have now quite forgiven them for aging me by several decades … whoops!  The display board in the hotel foyer announced MY 90th birthday party was being held in the Ark Royal Restaurant.  Needless to say this caused much hilarity and the board was well photographed by several members of the family! 

The food at the Royal Beach Hotel was first class (no small comment from a former caterer and restaurateur!) and the wines excellent.  There’s no doubt we’ll be treating ourselves to lunch there again at the next opportunity.  So a big thank you from the WORD-right team to all the staff at the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea.

The highlight of my father’s day was the surprise arrival of Daniel del Piccolo.  In full regalia Daniel, a member of the Rose and Thistle Pipe band,  piped in the birthday cake and brought tears to an old man’s eyes. 

Daniel - the South Coast Piper

Daniel Del Piccolo - the South Coast Piper

I had no idea where I would find a piper for the event and found Daniel on a Google search.  We communicated by email and phone to tie up the arrangements for the day.  Daniel sent me a copy of his repertoire and even went so far as to learn to play ‘The Dark Island’ at my request. 

Daniel Del Piccolo is an incredibly talented young man!  Not only is he an accomplished musician, he is charming, helpful and a sheer delight to work with.  If you’re looking for a piper in the Hampshire or South Coast area, don’t hesitate.  Check out his website (http://www.southcoastpiper.co.uk).  He comes highly recommended!

Finally a big thank you to all the staff at The Regency Nursing Home who do so much to care for all their residents.  Everyone’s birthday is marked by a tea-party complete with cake.  They do a great job and it’s good to know there are so many dedicated professionals helping look after my Dad.

 I’ve just come across some information about a new mentoring service available in Oxfordshire.  Free mentoring and counselling is available to anyone wanting to start their own business or for existing small businesses which are looking to expand.  It’s being offered by TBAC, Thames Business Advice Centre.  More information can be found at http://www.tbac.org.uk.

 The Federation for Small Businesses’ chairman John Wright, in his New Year message, said we small business owners are going to be the people to pull the country through this economic crisis.  It sounds to me like we’d better all get to work!  Mind you, in the Federation’s magazine it also says 68% of us work more than 46 hours a week.  So perhaps with a bit of free mentoring help, we can cut back the hours we work and save the economy at the same time.  No pressure then?

FBBC to Help Businesses Get the Most from Networking

Monday 2nd February 2009 7.30am – 9am

Faringdon Business Centre, Volunteer Way, Faringdon, Oxfordshire. 

 08 January 2009 WORD-right:  Faringdon Business Breakfast Club (http://www.fbbc-networking.co.uk) will be holding a Networking Workshop at its meeting on Monday 2nd February 2009.  The Workshop will help business people make the most of their networking opportunities and will be led by Nigel Morgan of Morgan PR (http://www.morganpr.co.uk).   

 

Nigel Morgan Networking

Nigel Morgan Networking

Nigel Morgan is an experienced networker as well as running a successful PR agency in Berkshire.  Nigel regularly gives presentations and runs workshops across the area and is a recognised specialist in the networking field.  The fun and dynamic workshop will take a hands-on approach to help networkers deliver the perfect pitch, how to break into groups and start conversations, and set their networking objectives. 

 Visitors to the Networking Workshop will be welcome.  The cost of attending the networking breakfast and workshop is £10 per head which includes a buffet breakfast.  Anyone wishing to book a place should call the booking line on 0845 003 1340, visit the FBBC website (http://www.fbbc-networking.co.uk) or email Joy McCarthy at joy@word-right.co.uk.

 -ends-

 Notes to Editors

 The original Faringdon Breakfast Club was founded in 2004.  The group was threatened with closure in 2007 when SEEDA funding was withdrawn from the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway.  The members rallied and saved the group from closure.  With the help of a voluntary organising committee, FBBC rebranded itself in May 2008  and now regularly attracts more than 20 people to its monthly meetings.

 FBBC is unique in that the breakfast club is not owned by any person or organisation.  There are no membership or joining fees.  It is run by the members for mutual benefit.  Any surplus funds are spent on promoting the group.  Anyone attending the networking  breakfast is deemed to be a member and eligible to have their profile included in the regular newsletter, and have their details in the members’ directory on the FBBC website FOC. 

Further information from:

 Joy McCarthy – WORD-right Copywriting and Communications

Tel: 01608 642845

joy@word-right.co.uk

http://www.word-right.co.uk

 

Nigel Morgan

Morgan PR

Tel: 0845 00 33 666

Nigel@morganpr.co.uk

http://www.morganpr.co.uk

Here we are in 2009 approaching our 2nd season on the WORD-right allotment.  While we were interested in gardening before and have grown vegetables on a small scale, it’s always been a fair weather activity.  In fact I always enjoyed snowy weather … it was guaranteed to make our garden look just as good as everyone else’s! 

 

But here we are in January, with a large stock of winter hardy peas (Douce Provence) ready to be planted, and the ground is frozen solid.  We started them off in our garden to foil the mice, who would have scoffed the lot if we’d planted them straight in the ground.  The Met Office are predicting a thaw by the weekend, so with luck the ground might have thawed enough to be able to get them planted.

 

As new allotmenteers, we didn’t know anything about growing through the winter months and did a lot of reading on the subject.  I first came across winter hardy Douce Provence peas in an advert in the ‘Grow It’ magazine and thought they sounded like a great idea.  Our home grown peas were delicious last summer and we were keen to grow more this year.  However, the Douce Provence peas were very expensive so, being a canny Scot, I started shopping around.  That’s when I found seed merchants, Edwin Tucker in Devon (http://www.edwintucker.co.uk).  The price in the advert was £8 + P&P for 400 peas, but this small seed merchant supplied us with 500 for the princely sum of £1.60 + £1 P&P!  Guess where we bought the rest of our seeds?

 

So finally … here’s to a thaw and to the coming of spring, because we copywriters are keen to escape the desks and get back out reaping the rewards of our allotment. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words can be a minefield.  Even the most experienced writers make the odd blunder.  Obviously as copywriters, we try to avoid falling into the trap of making any goofs ourselves, but it isn’t easy. 

 

There’s no doubt some writing blunders are hilarious!  We’ve had many a good laugh when what was intended to be factual information, turned into a total howler. 

 

Of course estate agents get a lot of flak from everyone … probably as much as traffic wardens … but one of our all-time favourites was in a set of property details.  It was a very old house built over 3 floors.  Interestingly, according to the agent’s details, there was an outside loo which was accessed from the top floor!  As we couldn’t abseil, we didn’t bother going to view that one … and laughed about it for months.

 

So if you come across any good goofs or gaffes, we’d love to hear about them.  With all the present economic doom and gloom, we could all do with cheering up!  

As a small business trying hard to be as ‘green’ as possible, we’re committed to the 3 Rs and always looking for ways to reduce, re-use, and recycle.

 

Apart from helping to reduce our carbon footprint, it also saves us money.  Because we work from home, it’s easier to be green.  We control the heating and lighting levels, rather than an office management company, and make all the buying decisions ourselves.  

 

One big issue for businesses is how to get rid of old equipment: electrical or otherwise.  If you’re in this situation, have you thought about signing up to your local Freecycle group (http://www.freecycle.co.uk)? Freecycle is an online community with groups across the country.  Most areas are now served by a local Freecycle community, which is run and moderated by volunteers.  Visit the website to find a group in your area. 

 

Originally started in the US, Freecycle’s objective is to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill.  Everything on Freecycle must be given away free and you’d be amazed at the stuff you’ll find a home for.  A word of warning though … freecycling children, animals, wives, husbands, etc is not allowed!   

 

We’ve recently found new homes for a couple of old printers (one was on the blink!), an office chair, and a mountain of used padded envelopes.   Who knows, when you sign up, you might find someone offering the very things you need too. 

 

Happy Freecycling from WORD-right. 

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