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Happy 2012 (and be nice to your readers)

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Happy new year from Good As Gold! My Facebook newsfeed this morning is filled with complaints about sleeping badly, the miserable weather or returning to work (or all three). I hope you’re feeling more positive than the majority of my friends … although I suspect their updates may represent the mood of the nation at large.

One of my 2012 business resolutions is to blog more, so I thought I’d kick off with something that I tucked away this time last year.

Imagine my delight when, on 5 January, I received an unsolicited email newsletter from a leadership management company, with this opening:

Ahhhh the start of another year and all those New Year resolutions have probably already been broken. Back in the same old groove after just 5 days are we? Fancy a change? Fancy something new? Want to try something different? It will take more than a promise to yourself at midnight on New Years Eve after a couple of glasses of shampoo!!

Not only is this badly written, but - worse - it’s patronising, makes assumptions about the reader, and … well, it’s a teeny bit rude. I’d been to the gym that day! I’d eaten my five portions of fruit and veg! I even resisted that enormous slab of Christmas cake at lunchtime.

OK, I’m lying about the cake - but I hope you get my point. Be friendly. Be self-deprecating. Even be personal. Never insult your reader.

Here’s to an Olympic year ahead.

New Year 2012

A glittering night at the APSE awards

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Last Thursday (10 September 2009), I was honoured to accompany some of my long-term clients to the International Arena in Cardiff for the annual APSE (Association of Public Service Excellence) awards, in which we’d been shortlisted for a prize. We had a fun, laughter-filled night, made even sweeter by the fact that we won!

best-information-communication-technology-initiative

finditinsandwell is a project run by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council which aims to stimulate the local economy by a) making public-sector contracts more accessible to Midlands businesses, and b) encouraging people to inter-trade, retaining money, jobs and skills in the area.

I’m proud to have worked with the finditinsandwell team since just after the launch of its website (www.finditinsandwell.co.uk) in the spring of 2007, writing news stories, event listings and fortnightly email bulletins. 

Under the direction of finditinsandwell’s Steve Massey, I wrote the bid for this year’s APSE awards, in the category of ‘Best information and communication technology initiative’.

For us, simply getting shortlisted was a fantastic achievement (there were more than 400 submissions), although Steve said he had a “good feeling” about the final result. The APSE team has recently hosted a procurement seminar at Sandwell Council, and holds finditinsandwell up as a example of good practice in a local authority’s power to benefit communities.

And sure enough - Steve’s prediction came true! When the result was announced, I was proud to accompany my colleagues Julie Dixon from Sandwell Council and web developer Ash Payne of IceBlue to the stage, to collect our trophy from Sky News presenter Mai Davies. We were so excited that we did a little dance on our way up, prompting Mai to make a comment about Sandwell people “not being let out much”.

Sorry, Sandwell, if we embarrassed you.

The official news report says it was “a brilliant night in Cardiff”, which you can read between the lines as, “most of us had bad heads the next morning”.

In the coming months I’ll be re-writing the content for finditinsandwell’s business-support pages, working alongside Ash and the team at IceBlue (the marketing agency which built and developed it) to give Sandwell people useful, accessible information about the business support available to them from Sandwell Council and its partners. Watch this space!

apse-award-winners

At Good As Gold, we only write award bids for projects and clients we know inside out; that’s the only way we can feel confident of your success. If you’re not yet a Good As Gold client but you’re in a hurry to go for your next gong, have a look at www.awardsintelligence.co.uk.

The free email service keeps you up to date with dozens of national and international award schemes - and Awards Intelligence even offers a ‘no win, no fee’ service for compiling bids for awards in which they believe you have a high chance of success.

And we can always help you next year - give me a call!
 

 

Made in Sandwell

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Yesterday (Thursday 5 March) was a big day for Sandwell. finditinsandwell (Sandwell Council’s initiative to encourage local companies to inter-trade) organised a day of  free networking at the Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich, followed by an invitation-only, black-tie dinner at The Public in West Bromwich.

finditinsandwell kitemarkBoth events were aimed at introducing big regeneration partners to the diverse, capable range of manufacturers  right on their doorsteps. As Councillor Bob Badham pointed out in the early days of finditinsandwell, “Why [should local architects] source from China when everything they need to build a house can be made here in the Black Country?”

He’s right, and that’s why the finditinsandwell team invited around 40 local manufacturers to showcase their wares to the most influential people in the borough.

I (hope I!) earned my ticket to the evening event by helping out in the morning, joining the finditinsandwell team on the door at 8am to welcome more than 700 delegates to the half-day of networking and seminars. The interest in the event bowled us over; unfortunately the Bethel car park couldn’t accommodate everyone and attendees abandoned their cars up to half a mile away on Kelvin Way. A sign that people truly value the chance to meet face-to-face with other local businesspeople.

During the opening speeches, I was especially proud to watch the premiere of the short film, ‘Made in Sandwell’, starring charismatic Brummie historian Carl Chinn. I’d helped finditinsandwell’s Steve Massey plan the script (we knew from the outset that Carl’s local knowledge and insight were far superior to our own, so we let him bring the sparkle), alongside Smethwick-based Nachural Corporate Communications, who filmed, edited and spun our ideas into something much more coherent and exciting.

Someone bluntly pointed out in a feedback survey afterwards  that there would be no BAFTA awards for the ’stars’ of the film, but I thought the Black Country interviewees brought the piece to life. Especially the West Brom pub landlord who was asked by Carl Chinn whether manufacturing was still alive and well in Sandwell:

“Oh, Christ yeah!” he said.

Phil Spencer dances with Made in Sandwell guests

Phil Spencer dances with Made in Sandwell guests

The evening event at The Public, Sandwell’s newest (and much-knocked) landmark building. was very special, with most of the magic (the flowers, the table favours, the pianist and the band) sourced locally through finditinsandwell.co.uk. The lovely Phil Spencer (of Channel 4 Location, Location, Location fame) was our after-dinner speaker. He spoke about the “synergy” between the construction and manufacturing industries, shared anecdotes about working with Kirstie Allsopp (”And no, we haven’t”, he said), then downed several glasses of wine and spent the night bopping away with the rest of us to the sweet sound of Roy G. Hemmings and his Dictionary of Soul band.

If you’re interested in joining finditinsandwell (it’s free!), visit www.finditinsandwell.co.uk.

Women on their Way (WOW) Awards

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Wish I could spend every Friday afternoon drinking champagne and lunching in the company of inspiring women …

Julie Dixon (left) and me

Julie Dixon (left) and me

Today I’ve been to the first Women on their Way (WOW) Awards ceremony, launched by Jo Cameron (of The Apprentice fame) and Lisa Ibbotson, to celebrate and recognise the “energy that women bring into work and their resolve to make a difference”. 

The lunchtime event was held at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston and hosted by proud Brummie Marverine Cole of Sky News.

I was a guest of www.finditinsandwell.co.uk (Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council’s groundbreaking initiative to help local businesses inter-trade and collaborate), which sponsored the ‘Online Business Award’.

My lovely colleague and friend Julie Dixon at Sandwell MBC had the honour of handing over the trophy to winner Jane Hopkins.

Jane set up MumsClub.co.uk to give entrepreneurial mothers the marketing and business tools they need to run a successful venture from home.

Jane Hopkins (centre) with her award

Jane Hopkins (centre) with her award

There was a small but significant, behind-the-scenes triumph for finditinsandwell today, too: Jo Cameron had sourced the AV company (Smethwick-based Nachural) through the website, and commissioned Kiss Me Cupcakes in West Bromwich to supply delectable table favours.

It’s always great to see people buying locally and making the most of our diverse, talented supply chain here in the Midlands. Feels like our work at finditinsandwell is paying off!

Happy weekend, all.

Me and Marquita Mortlock of Hamstead Bookkeeping

Me and Marquita Mortlock of Hamstead Bookkeeping

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