Isobel Dwyer on charities during COVID

Date: Friday 2nd October 2020

Speaker: Isobel Dwyer, Appeal Coordinator

Business: Rennie Grove Hospice Care (RGHC)

Topic: 2020 update & overview


1. COVID IMPACT – £1.5m and rising…

  • RGHC has projected operating costs of £9m (£25,000 per day) which it needs to raise during 2020.
  • Of this, roughly 40% (£3.8m) was budgeted revenue from its charity shops.
  • However, with all shops closing during lockdown, as at Sep-20 RGHC had a £1.5m shortfall to make up.

2. WHY do RGCH need £9m per annum?

Rennie Grove Hospice Care (RGHC) is a charity providing specialist care and support for adults and children with life-limiting illnesses in Bucks and west Herts.

It relies on public support for 89% of its £9m per annum running costs.

Isobel’s presentation [see below] details all the work that RGCH does, but to summarise:

  • Grove House – Living well services
  • 24/7 Hospice & Home care
  • Family support – bereavements
  • Supporting the NHS

3. HOW to make up this shortfall?

SHOPS

  • 25 of the 28 shops have now reopened, but with quarantine restrictions on donations (72 hours) and limited space + public generosity post-lockdown, it is proving to be a challenge.
  • Ebay – RGHC has a site on Ebay now, to help move the mountain of donations
  • DEPOP – an Instagram-style app for the best designer clothing we receive in donations, for people to but online.

EVENTS

Tanya Dickinson on the beauty of an empty inbox

Date: Friday 2nd October 2020

Speaker: Tanya Dickinson

Business: Platinum PA

Topic: Project zero inbox

Zero inbox
www.wired.co.uk

1. Why?

Why is an empty inbox so important? Consider these observations:

  • On average, we look at our emails 74 times per day
  • Emails create more stress than a phone call = we keep thinking about them

2. Organise

There’s no golden rule – it’s whatever works best for you. However, bear in mind the following:

  • Separate out your Personal from your Work emails: if you use the same email account for both, these should be one of your highest level folders.
  • Have as many sub-folders as you need: there is no limit, it’s intuitive to you, but the more the merrier – sub-divide by client, by topic…etc
  • Make sure you synchronise across different devices. [Note: if your email runs off a POP or IMAP server, you may need some professional help…best to ask Ollie!]

3. Delete

  • Emails >3m old: it would look rude to reply after all this time…if it was important, you would have been chased…and if it was an offer, it will no longer be valid!
  • Unsubscribe: you can do this sitting in front of the tv one evening – get rid of junk at source!
  • Archive: for when you’re not sure whether you might need an email again (chances are you won’t, but it’ll be there just in case!)

Matt Wright on why Case Studies offer the most bang for your marketing buck

Date: Friday 4 September 2020

Speaker: Matt Wright

Company: Nobleword

Topic: 5 steps to writing effective Case Studies

In my experience, Case Studies are the single most effective piece of marketing – they are unique, compelling and have longevity.

Unfortunately, the Powerpoint presentation is too large to upload here (click on this link here to access it via the Nobleword website), so here are the edited highlights:

1. Preparation

  • Interview your client first…then interview your customer
  • Know the message/USP for each Case Study and stick to it!
  • Remember the 5 W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Why

2. Interviewing

  • Ask open questions – you’re looking for the customer to be creative and emotive in order to create memorable content, e.g.

How did the product/service you received make you feel?

What 3 words would you use to describe the product/service

What challenge was your business facing…which the product/service helped you to overcome?

3. Write-up

  • Catchy titles – think like a newspaper/magazine and draw your readers in
  • Pull-out quotes: break-up the text and help to isolate key USPs
  • Testimonial quotes: scatter these liberally!

4. Approval

Note that getting hold of the customer to approve the Case Study can be the most time-consuming part of the process…but it’s absolutely essential that they are comfortable with what is being sent out in their name.

The advantages of this stage of the process are:

  • Polish quotes: tell them you’ve reworded certain sections/quotes to make it flow better – as long as people know, they are almost always content to sound good
  • Time to rethink: often the customer gets off the phone with you and suddenly realises something they’ve left out, or a quote they’d like to add – this is the ideal time for a ‘second bite of the cherry’.
  • Sign off: you want the customer to agree that they’re happy with the Case Study, so that you’ve got an audit trail and a reference point if there are any issues further down the line (very unlikely, but I have known it!)

5. Design

A professional pdf is something to be proud of…so don’t skimp on your Case Study at this stage – make it look fantastic!

Nobleword uses InDesign and graphic designers to create both online and hard print Case Studies.

Conclusion

For any more information, please contact Matt Wright at mattnoble@nobleword.co.uk.

Olly Denhard – Psst…what’s your password?

Date: Friday 1 Sep 2020

Speaker: Olly Denhard

Business: IT Trouble Free

Topic: Password protection

Did you know that 81% of data breaches are due to poor passwords?

The most common passwords are not always that sophisticated according to research undertaken by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC):

  • 123456 [23.2m victim accounts worldwide]
  • 123456789 [7.7m – cunningly adding 3 numbers only makes this the 2nd most commonly hacked password!]
  • qwerty [3.8m – so letters aren’t that much safer than numbers…]
  • password [3.6m – ah the old classic – all lower case mind you!]
  • 1111111 [3.1m – cunning…but not quite cunning enough]

Interestingly, the NCSC also published the 5 most common passwords involving premier league football team name (‘liverpool’ champions again with 0.28m), musicians (‘blink182′ 0.29m – never heard of ’em) and fictional characters (‘superman’ 0.33m easily defeated ‘batman’ 0.2m in this particular face-off).

Practise good password hygiene

“Recognising the passwords that are most likely to result in a successful account takeover is an important first step in helping people create a more secure online presence.”

Troy Hunt, international web security expert
  1. Identify whether your password is weak: Troy Hunt’s list –  Have I Been Pwned – can be used to check breached usernames and passwords.
  2. Create a strong password: the NSCS recommends three random words.
  3. Store passwords securely: this means not on a post-it note, but using professional software such as Password manager (as recommended by IT Trouble Free – this will only offer to fill in passwords for accredited sites) or other reputable programmes such as LastPass.

“Using hard-to-guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend combining three random but memorable words. Be creative and use words memorable to you, so people can’t guess your password.”

Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director

Conclusion

The NSCS has published a paper on UK Cyber Security [see below] which is well worth a read if you’d like to educate yourself further about password protection.

Alternatively, call in the experts at IT Trouble Free and let them take the worry off your hands!

July 17th Zoom meeting

As ever was great to see the members even if it was in the virtual world.

We had a talk from Karen of Take One Media showing us some of the recent work they have done with some great examples of videos that show off businesses in different inventive ways, from an accountancy company that wants to show more about “who” they are as opposed to “what” they do.

We also had a great story from Charles of Longmore Solicitors showing an amusing legal story that highlighted what can happen from the most innocent of beginnings! His in depth grilling from the group on wills was also enlightening and we found out that a will should be reviewed every 5 years or when situations change – he also does this for FREE!

Tony K Silver on how to make your LinkedIn profile sing v mumble!

Date: Friday 1 May 2020

Speaker: Tony K Silver

Business: Solid Solutions Solutions

Topic: 5 Top Tips – LinkedIn profiles

Your LinkedIn profile can be your best friend – working tirelessly in the background to promote you,…or your worst enemy – undermining all your good work by presenting a poor online impression.

Here are 5 top tips from Tony to ensure your LinkedIn profile makes the right sort of noise:

1. Your banner tells your story

  • Your LinkedIn banner is the editable space behind your profile photo – it’s about 30% of what anybody sees on screen when they first log on to your profile.
  • Use your banner to help tell your story, reinforce your image, or to amuse your reader.
  • Above all, use your banner to help people understand what you do and how well you do it.

2. Headshots not mugshots

  • Smile – be approachable, this isn’t a passport photo!
  • However, remember it should be a headshot, not a bodyshot, so you’ll be recognisable on mobile devices
  • Avoid looking disinterested – slouching, hands in pockets…etc.

3. Job Description – think ‘Why?’ not ‘What?’

  • “I’m an Executive Assistant at Alpha Network Solutions….”
  •  So what? What can you do for me? Why should I want to connect with you?
  • This could become: “Executive Assistant – 25+ years of experience supporting CEOs, Presidents, VPs, Directors & other key leaders.”

4. Put yourself in your reader’s armchair

  • The first 3 lines of your profile belong to the viewer
  • Don’t begin every sentence with “I…”

5. Post creatively

  • Use questions to draw in other readers: “Do you agree it’s a good idea that…”
  • Tag other people for comment (pre-warn them that you’re going to do this first)

Tanya Dickinson on why to use a VA over a PA?

Date: Friday 1 May 2020

Speaker: Tanya Dickinson

Business: Platinum PA

Topic: : Why use a VA over a PA?

In these ever-changing times when social distancing and remote working have become the norm, the advantages of VAs (Virtual Assistants = online) over PAs (Personal Assistants = physical) has become even more pronounced.

As a reminder, here are 3 key benefits a VA can offer your business:

1. PAYG (Pay as You Go)

  • With cashflow and workflow proving more difficult to predict, a traditional PA represents a fixed cost and commitment for your business.
  • By comparison, VAs work flexibly as & when you require their services.
  • That means no recruitment, tax or National Insurance costs.

2. Social Distancing

  • The notion of a physical office for all employees was already being challenged pre-COVID 19.
  • In this ‘new world’, being able to work remotely and at a distance has become mandatory
  • VAs are accustomed to managing dynamic workflows and working from their own premises

3. Outsource & upskill

  • VAs usually have their own unique set of skills, aside from the usual word processing, spreadsheeting and presentation competencies; e.g. invoicing, expenses and purchase ledger management
  • Also, VAs are usually great networkers with an extensive book of contacts, so if there is a particular job you need, a VA should probably be your first port of call!

Conclusion

Having worked as a PA across a wide range of industries (financial, retail, pharmaceutical) I understand what businesspeople need and how to deliver it effectively.

There isn’t a one size fits all – everybody’s requirements and ways of working are different, which is where a VA such as myself fit in nicely!

Sally Hindmarch on Your Virtual Self – Creating the Right Impression

Date: Fri 17th April 2020

Speaker: Sally Hindmarch

Business: Partners with you

Topic: Online presentation tips

1. Set-up: “Can I be seen and what can I see?”

  • Lighting – have a window in front of you, not behind.
  • Background – avoid dirty laundry and household items; if in doubt, have a wall behind you, or even better, set up a Virtual Background to promote your business (if applicable).
  • Practise – set yourself up on a Virtual Meeting beforehand to check how you look.
  • Camera position – raise your PC to eye-level; a view up your nose is never a good one!
  • Clothing – avoid bright whites/all blacks (cameras have difficulty picking this up).

Oh, and do wear clothes! Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you can work in nightwear…or no wear at all!

2. Sound: “Can I be heard clearly?”

Don’t just rely on your microphone – practise your diction and clarity beforehand with a few verbal warm-up exercises such as:

“Unique New York”

“Red lorry, Yellow lorry”

“Ken Dodd’s dad’s dog is dead”

[Note: no animals were harmed in the making of this rhyme].

3. Etiquette: “Would my onscreen etiquette be permissible face-to-face?”

  • Don’t peer into the screen – it looks weird!
  • Don’t eat on camera – drinking tea/coffee is usually OK…alcohol less so in a business environment).
  • Follow the agenda – however, if there isn’t one, normal etiquette prevails; i.e. MUTE yourself when not talking, stick to the agreed timings…etc.
  • Ask permission – e.g. if you need to turn off the camera to preserve bandwidth.

CONCLUSION

It’s easy to forget yourself when you’re sitting at home in front of your computer, since this is very normal.

However, just remember that you’re on camera and effectively not in your own home but on show to all!

Emma Hollings on Photo Efficiency – Recognise, Recall, Recycle

Date: Friday 1st May 2020

Speaker: Emma Hollings

Business: EH Photography Services

Topic: Self-Promotion

1. Photo Efficiency – Recognise, Recall, Recycle

“Your outfit needs to be recognisable in a busy coffee shop”

  • Find an outfit that captures your personality and helps you to stand out from the crowd
  • You need to wear something you are comfortable with and will make you want to use & share your photographs

2. Recall – Social Media crossover: public to personal

“All that visibility work is really paying dividends” [Photo Profile client]

  • Use your personal profile to promote your private business
  • It’s not all about hard sell, especially during lockdown when so many businesses are struggling for money
  • Consider putting out ‘Top Tips’ or ‘How To Guides’ for your area of expertise – if people have learnt from you, experience shows that they will come back to you at a later date

3. Recycle – Don’t rewrite, recycle your content

  • The Pyramid Effect
    • Extract the audio from a video and you can make a podcast
    • Divide the audio into sections and you can have 3-5 blogs
    • Highlight key phrases from the blogs and you can have 5-10 social media posts
  • Match the photos to the appropriate content

Matt Wright: Top 10 Tips for Motivating Yourself when Home-working

Speaker: Matt Noble Wright
Business: Nobleword Copywriting
Topic: Working from Home

Week 2 of Quarantine and the novelty of working from home full-time starting to wear off a little?

Motivation lagging and good intentions going by the wayside?

Remind yourself of these 10 Tips for Motivating Yourself at Home.


  1. Have a schedule
    • Organise your day as if you have to get up to go to work
  2. Get dressed
    • “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.” – Karen Pine (professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire)
  3. Don’t work where you sleep
    • It helps with a delineation between work and play
  4. Exercise
    • Being sedentary isn’t just harmful for your health, it’s terrible for your motivation and discipline; exercise gives you a boost of energy that’s incredibly helpful for productivity
  5. Earn Rewards
    • Rather than binge-watching box sets and putting off any work until the evening, use tv as a reward in the evening
    • For smaller blocks of time, use micro-rewards; e.g. an hour of work = 10 minutes on a video game
  6. Mute Social Media
    • That little “bong” message noise will instantly jolt you out of thinking about whatever you’re supposed to be working on.
    • Either hide your phone or mute it
  7. Get Outside
    • When working from home, your house or apartment can become your bunker; it’s a safe spot that has everything you need, so why should you ever bother leaving?
    • Your body needs sunlight (easier said than done in the UK much of the year…) and getting outside (for your scheduled 1-hour per day) will help your mental sanity
  8. Talk to other Human Beings
    • Make up for the lack of actual human contact where you can – adapt, improvise, do anything that forces you to have a conversation or engage with another human
  9. Declare war on Distracting Sites
    • Delete distracting sites (amusing cats…etc) from your favourite bar
  10. Have a side project to fill the dead space
    • Working from home trims all that fat from your workday, so with diligence, a 9-5 job might well turn into a 9-2 job
    • Use the time freed up to take up  a hobby (such as drawing) or starting that book you’d meant to write, or…whatever!

Date: 3rd April 2020