Friday, 11 December 2009

No really...Happy Christmas!

I love/hate this time of year. Overbearing sentimentality, commercial meltdown, mountains of Chinese manufactured plastic shite that the kids don't really want, hideous food. Then on the upside there's the mulled wine, office parties, the excitement of my kids on Christmas Eve, the Wizard of Oz.

Still, I don't see why we can't get it over in a long weekend then crack on - I've got work to do, you know.

Anyroad up, whatever you're doing - I hope you have a great Christmas and New Year. There...I said it.

Here's the BrandSpankin' Christmas eshot...

Social Media isn't just for idiots...

I read an interesting post on LinkedIn yesterday. A guy from the North West Directors group was clearly trying to be contraversial by suggesting that, in his words, "only idiots think that social media works."

I countered by pointing out that "only idiots DON'T think social media works." And if you think he's right and I'm wrong, here's a story we carried on iSM yesterday...

Dell earns $6.5million from Twitter sales

COMPUTER maker Dell has announced that it has sold $6.5m worth of equipment by using microblogging website Twitter.

This sales figure represents something of a late surge – as recently as June this year the company said it had made $3m of sales via Twitter over the previous two years.

Whilst only a fraction of the $12.3bn sales in the company’s latest financial quarter, it is growing rapidly. The message to businesses is that social media represents a viable way of getting your message out there and generating revenue.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Reclaims4U Press Announcement

We issued the following press release on Thursday for our client, Reclaims4U, following a mystery shopping exercise. It's very timely, given the fact that the Supreme Court upheld the Banks' appeal regarding unfair charges.

NEWS RELEASE: Reclaims4U Ltd urge caution where firms offer to “write off”, “wipe out” or “clear” your debts

LANCASHIRE financial reclaims business, Reclaims4U Ltd is warning consumers to be cautious when looking to pursue a claim against their credit card or loan agreement for ‘unenforceability’.

In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in favour of the banks over ‘unfair charges’, many hard-up consumers may be looking at other means of pursuing the banks for unfair charges.

As such, Reclaims4U has expressed concern for consumers who may now be considering looking at unenforceable credit agreements, such as credit cards. A mystery shopping exercise conducted by the business revealed some startling discrepancies - such as wide variations in upfront, irredeemable charges and unsubstantiated claims about the potential for a successful outcome. For example, of those businesses questioned, nearly 40 per cent said there was a greater than 80 per cent chance of success with 12 per cent of businesses claiming that that there was a “100 per cent” likelihood of a successful outcome.

It has become clear that a proportion of credit card or loan agreements may not be fully compliant with prescribed terms as required under the Consumer Credit Act of 1974 – and some of these credit agreements could be deemed unenforceable, which means consumers may be paying Credit Cards or Loans which are not enforceable. A large number of businesses have emerged offering to work on behalf of consumers to “Write off”, “Wipe out” or “Clear” their debts, phrases which are not compliant with Claims Management Regulations.

Reclaims4U Ltd – the company that conducted the mystery shopping exercise over the 9th and 10th of November, is urging consumers that whilst credit agreements can be reviewed to assess whether they are enforceable or not, they should be cautious and ask the right questions before instructing a company to get their credit card or loan agreements reviewed.

Reclaims4U’director, Lee Blackshaw commented: “There are a lot of companies trying to cash in on this sector, although not all of them are acting in the best interest of their clients, as whilst they maybe explaining the benefits of unenforceability they are not fully advising consumers of the potential consequences.”

“We found that many of the 39 businesses we spoke to didn’t fully explain the process and its drawbacks. Over 56 per cent said that successful claims wouldn’t affect the consumer’s credit rating, when this is currently not the case.”

“A big concern is that whilst consumers may have credit card or loans deemed unenforceable, at the moment the debt stays on your credit file, which could effect future credit applications such as loans or mortgages.”

“Although Lenders are currently required to register the fact that a debt has been deemed as unenforceable on the credit bureau, there is currently nothing to stop the lenders continuing to register the customer’s payment history. As this is the current Legal position, I’d urge people to proceed with caution.”

“In the current financial climate it is understandable that people will consider this option because they could be struggling to make ends meet. Pursuing credit card or loan unenforceability is an option, but you should be aware of the full facts and also the costs before proceeding with such a claim – over 30 per cent of companies charged an upfront fee between £200 and £300. Over five per cent charged more than £500 and the highest upfront fee we came across was £995!”

“With regards to claiming, there are other options which are worth pursuing such as claiming against mis-sold payment protection insurance on loans or credit cards - most importantly - whatever you do, always talk to a reputable company.”

- ENDS -

Friday, 20 November 2009

Attend our PR Masterclasses

Like many other businesses, BrandSpankin’ has been buffeted by the economic climate over the last year – as you can imagine, Marketing and Public Relations are budgets that are frequently first to be cut. Nevertheless, when we meet people in business in our area they often suggest that they’d be very keen to build more awareness of their business, to generate leads and to be seen to have a higher media profile – whether that’s local & regional, trade and business, online or even national. The sticking point for many is the (perceived) cost of PR – especially when weighed against the measurable benefits.

Therefore, we have been looking at ways we can help businesses get consistent, positive media coverage that communicates who they are, what they do and what they stand for – without incurring significant costs. As such, we are proposing to run a two day course in January – and teach a member of your team the tricks of the trade, so instead of having to retain the services of our business (or a similar one), your business will be capable of generating positive headlines using an in-house resource.

Building awareness for your business in this way, will help you to be ‘front of mind’ when your targets are about to make a ‘buying decision’. Recognition of your business and familiarity with your offerings builds trust amongst prospects and customers alike. And you can convert that trust into winning new business and retaining your existing customers.

A member of your staff can join our PR masterclass – this two day course costs only £199 plus VAT, but there are limited places. Not only will your business then be able to make your message more compelling, you’ll be able to target your message appropriately, write effective press releases, get your story published, use social media to give your story much more traction and you’ll significantly increase traffic to your website. What’s more, we’ll be following up with every participant on the course to ensure that they put their skills to good use - to ensure that you generate positive media coverage (that’s worth more than the cost of the course itself!).

The course will be delivered by our MD, Julian Jordan, who has 20 year’s experience as a journalist, media relations expert and marketer. He has been the Managing Editor of The Asian, Production Editor of Unified Communications and Editor-in-Chief of Information Services Monthly. He has also successfully managed Media Relations for brands such as Vivendi-Universal, Onetel, Your Communications, TouchStar Software, Moonfish and

Here’s what a current client has to say about our media relations services:

“BrandSpankin’ have helped us immensely with our media relations. Now, people are blogging about our service and social media activity has significantly increased our website traffic. Most importantly, we’ve generated coverage in trade and business media, regional media and we’ve been in The Daily Telegraph. Building awareness in this way will help us become the first point of reference when people are looking to purchase mobile broadband.” - Andy Gott - Managing Director,

Our media relations course could similarly be the difference that gives your business vital cut-through and differentiation – positive headlines are potentially just a phone call away!

Give us a call on 01282 878 301 - and here are some more details:-

Friday, 13 November 2009

WARNING...WARNING...WARNING....idiots in our midst

You may know somebody who is deeply gullible, intellectually challenged and socially limited. They may be inclined to carelessly spread OFFICIALLY DEBUNKED, RACIST rumours.

A good way to identify such individuals is that they may have sent the following text message to you today.

“Dear All. This is a very serious message that I hope you can pass on to as many people as you can. Last night at the big Asda in Manchester a 3 year old girl went missing. Fortunately their policy when something like this happens is to lock the doors. The little girl was found in the toilets with 2 Romanian women. One shaving her head and the other dressing her in boys clothes. This come from an employee who was there last night. Please pass the message round to as many as you can and remain extra vigilant with your own children.”

Forget Romanian women, Gypsies and migrants - a bigger threat to all of us is posed by fuckwits who collude with racist crap like this.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Top tips for marketing your small business...

Or, how to hold your nerve when all around you are losing theirs

A lot of small businesses we come across are often guilty of ad hoq marketing. Sales are down one particular month, so they decide the following month that they’d better “do some marketing”.

You wouldn’t do your books on an ad hoq basis (I hope!) and you wouldn’t turn up at the office on an ad hoq basis – so why would you leave your business development to chance?

Businesses that prosper are always the ones that plan their marketing and consistently communicate their values, products and services to their targets, prospects AND existing customers.

So here’s a few things to consider:

1. Budget accordingly. Things may take longer and cost more than planned. Look at your business plan – how much growth are you anticipating? Plan your marketing activity to meet that objective. Then ask yourself which areas of marketing have worked for you previously (e.g. a specific publication, direct mail, your website) – then direct your budget to those areas.

2. Your marketing will always require tweaks – and some things that you do won’t work. You need to learn along the way what works best for your business (i.e. gives you a return on your investment). The idea that the savvy businesses don’t cut their marketing budget in a recession is a falsehood – if it isn’t delivering, scrap it and focus your limited budget on something that is!

3. Taken together, these two points should illustrate that easy choices aren’t necessarily the best choices. Just because “we’ve always done it this way”, doesn’t mean it’s always going to work – especially as your customers have an increasingly sophisticated understanding of “media and marketing” - let’s face it, things have moved on from the days when we had just four terrestrial TV channels and half a dozen national newspapers – some of your competitors may be about to steal a march on you!

4. There’s an irrational person in your office – ignore this individual at all costs. The world is full of nay-sayers – don’t let them de-motivate you! So what if they hate your website/new logo/brochure/eshot/press release? An uninformed, knee-jerk, gut reaction says nothing about whether or not something is fit-for-purpose!

5. Getting butterflies before you hit send is almost certainly a good thing – it’s good to have a few doubts. That in itself should be sufficient to check, double check, ask a colleague (not the irrational one), even ask a customer. Nothing worse than blundering through something, absolutely convinced you are right – when the chances are, you’re wrong.

6. You’ll never please everyone, so why try? Even if you only please one in a hundred – do you realise how big a market that is?

7. Sticking to a conviction or principle is very laudable. Doing what demand in the marketplace dictates is very profitable. Laudable or decide.

8. Marketing is a means to helping your business make more money. Design work conducted for your business should never lose sight of this. Creativity is great, but only if it serves that purpose...I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re unlikely to win an award in Cannes...probably best to focus on generating leads and awareness!

9. Is your marketing measurable? Do you track what effect it’s having? Can you say for every £ you spend, you generate £s? There are lots of ways this can be done – it helps you figure out what works and what you should do more.

10. You will make mistakes, but try not to make expensive mistakes. If you’re going to commit to a marketing project that costs, look at what other businesses like yours have done and assess if it’s worked for them. Are there ways you can mitigate against high costs – there is funding and training available for example (call us and we'll let you know about it) - this could offset your costs and enhance your skills and experience.

So there you go! Food for thought, I hope. If there are any points that provoke your interest or, for that matter, raise your blood pressure...let us know.

And, of course, if there’s anything we can do to help you market your business more successfully – get in touch!

Enterprising Pendle

I chaired a board meeting of Enterprising Pendle - our Community Enterprise Board - on Monday evening. It was very productive - and given our current issues around funding and sustainability, very positive.

Remi Thackrey, our Enterprise Facilitator, reported on activity, in terms of who he's currently supporting and what challenges they face.

It's really encouraging that we now have active clients and that there are benefits being delivered to people who are running businesses, or who are in the process of setting them up.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Pendleside Hospice

As you may know, BrandSpankin’ is trying to make Lancashire’s Longest Doodle. Here’s what the Lancashire Telegraph had to say about it -

Besides the fact that we’re looking to support the regeneration of the area, by illustrating the links between creativity and enterprise, we’re also going to use the doodle as an opportunity to help Pendleside Hospice raise money and awareness (

Currently, they get just 30% of their funding from the Primary Healthcare Trust – approximately £850,000 per year. To operate, the hospice need to raise an additional £2million per year. We’ll be doing all we can in the coming months to support their efforts.

The hospice gets involved in a variety of events in East Lancashire, from fashion shows to beer festivals – it’s all here

They issue updates regarding their activities on a Facebook group – I’d urge all Pendle people to join and to offer your support.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009 using Twitter to assist business travellers

Comparison site offers social media based quality of service index!

MOBILE connectivity specialists, have come up with a unique way of monitoring the levels of service that networks are delivering to business users of mobile broadband.

The dongle comparison site has formulated a way to analyse all tweets within twenty five miles of twelve UK cities. All comments about mobile broadband networks and their performance will be logged in order to give a developing picture of the quality of service consumers are experiencing.

The outcome will enable visitors to the MobileBroadbandSupermarket site to see for themselves just how well each network is performing in their area. The current plan is that MobileBroadbandSupermarket will issue a quarterly statement indicating levels of performance across the following UK conurbations – London, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle/Sunderland, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Sheffield.

Andy Gott, MobileBroadbandSupermarket’s Managing Director commented:

“Sometimes people’s subjective experience is a very valuable index of business performance and we thought that by using tweets in this way we were providing business users of mobile broadband with an additional level of insight that will enable them to make an informed choice when purchasing a Dongle.”

He added: “Not only can this assist people to make the right choice based on their area, it can also point out the relative merits of a network in another area – so for frequent business travellers, it will prove very useful as they need connectivity in more than one location.”

“We’re very keen to use whatever means are available to help consumers through the maze of a dongle purchase – and Twitter is a perfect platform to use in this context. Not only is it proving extremely popular, but it is a place where there are already many early-adopters where technology is concerned, so it should prove a rich and informative source.”

Mobile connectivity devices, or “dongles” as they are commonly known, are an ideal way for people to stay connected on the move. They are especially useful to business travellers, who may need to get online whilst at the airport or hotel; for students, who need connectivity but may not have a fixed line connection; and also for some people in rural communities, who may not have very good ADSL coverage.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Here comes the Groom!

Oh me jaded and cynical, but I got outvoted by colleagues and our client when I wrote the following piece. We wanted to have a weddings piece to promote the made-to-measure Pal Zileri suit service at Scruples. I think I ended up it's a very toned down version of this piece that's going to appear in the magazine. In any case, hope it gives you a laugh at my expense!

Here comes the groom...

Traditionally weddings have been the domain of the bride. It’s her long as she’s happy... These are commonly held misconceptions – why shouldn’t the groom have some say or influence? And for that matter, why shouldn’t he feel like a million dollars too?

With Bridal gowns routinely costing thousands and only ever being worn once, it does beg the question, why shouldn’t the groom get to wear something in which he looks and feels fantastic – especially, as there’s a half chance he’ll be able to wear his “wedding” suit again!

The history of wedding wear is a depressing tale from a male perspective – traditionally the bride wears white as a colour of purity, whilst some say that the groom wears black to represent the "death of his carefree life".

Now, that’s not exactly a case of getting off on the best footing, is it? How many married men would have taken the vows if you were required to agree more drinks with the lads, no more football, no more messing about with cars, no more fishing? Not many of us!

So, just as the bride will have chosen a dress to make sure she looks her best on the day, the groom should choose an outfit which is a little bit special for HIS big day. So don’t just go for the tried and tested after-thought of a plain black suit - or worse, the truly awful morning suit or tuxedo route.

“Black tie” should be reserved for corporate jollies and award events. And, if you’re considering morning suits - good God man - are you getting married, or putting on the Ritz? Frankly, if you are wearing a top hat and you are not Isambard Kingdom Brunel, something has gone horribly wrong.

When have you ever worn one before? When are you ever likely to wear one again? So, why would you wear something so cumbersome and awkward, on what should be the most memorable day of your life?

My advice would be that in order to savour your wedding day and remember it for all the right reasons, you should feel happy and comfortable – so forego the ludicrously formal approach and consider a made-to-measure two or three piece suit.

The beauty of this approach is that you have one less thing to fret about - so you can focus on not losing the ring, remembering your speech and the fact that all your disparate family and social circles are about to collide to the tune of “Come on, Eileen.”

You can of course also have something made in very lightweight fabric – great if you’re getting married on one of the half dozen decent summer days we get, and even better if you’re considering getting hitching in sunnier climes!

There’s nothing to stop you coordinating with your best man, ushers, page boys – even the father of the bride (good to get him onside early!) – and, for this you should consider matching waistcoats and/or tie.

If you manage to get all this to tie in with the general colour scheme of the wedding...Result! Even better you could get your prospective Mrs to come along to your made-to-measure session with Pal Zileri’s tailors – she could help you choose your linings and the colours could match the bridesmaid’s dresses.

All that AND a married person’s tax allowance – PULL OUT THE STOPPER, LET’S HAVE A WHOPPER, BUT GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME!!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Owen Coyle: man for all seasons

Here's a version of a feature piece based on an interview I did with Owen Coyle, Burnley's manager. It's for the imminent edition of Scruples magazine - a contract publishing job we do for the Barrowford menswear outlet (You can see last year's here -


The global media glare and the intense pressure of the Premiership has seen some managers wilt. Yet Burnley’s young manager, Owen Coyle, thrives on it. When he came for his made-to-measure suit, we asked what makes Owen Coyle tick?

COYLE breezes into Scruples, still in his training kit from the morning’s session. It’s only a few days after the derby defeat to bitter local rivals, Blackburn Rovers, but if you’d expected Coyle to be licking his wounds, think again.

“March can’t come round quickly enough,” he comments in reference to the Turf Moor return fixture.

The positivity and enthusiasm of the man is infectious and clearly he’s cast a spell over Burnley’s players, staff and supporters. That magic has seen a middling championship side transformed to a team that went on a superb run, culminating in May’s championship play-offs, a swashbuckling display in the victory over Reading, and a trip to Wembley to blunt the Blades of Sheffield United in the final.

As Wade Elliott’s wonder goal hit the back of the net that afternoon, the realisation that Premiership football was coming to Burnley started to dawn on the club’s supporters – and they were still pinching themselves as the season started with home victories over the giants of Manchester United and Everton. That’s some testament to the power of Coyle’s positivity and charismatic leadership – but where did it all start?

“I was at Dumbarton when I was thirteen - I had a chance to sign for Dundee United, but my family felt that it would be best for me to serve my apprenticeship at Dumbarton and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was just allowed to just develop without any pressure.”

For youngsters coming into the game there’s a high failure rate, so what is it in the make-up of those that succeed?

“There are a lot of elements – ability, desire, hunger and getting the right break at the right time. When kids at sixteen are cast aside, one of two things happens - they either say well it’s natural or they try and go and get careers at other clubs.

“We have sixteen youth team players and fortunately we’ve taken 5 first year professionals on this year - and that’s not common place. So one thing I always say to young players at our club in particular is that this is a job of work and you’re privileged to be doing this. So, don’t let failure be through lack of effort.

“If we decide you’re not to be a first team player, let it be because you’ve worked your socks off and we just don’t think you’re quite good enough. It’s the most difficult part of football, I know we lose games and this and that, but when you have to relinquish the dreams of young players and tell them there’s no contract there for them, for me that’s a really difficult part of the job.”

Regarding his own motivation, it’s interesting to hear Coyle comment on what helped see him through.

“First and foremost I had a very good upbringing and a tremendous support system. I’ve got five brothers and two sisters, so when it’s going well, you never get carried away or you get a clip round the ear and they make sure you remain grounded.”

Family is a recurring theme and it clearly informs his thinking. He cites coming from The Gorbals in Glasgow, where his mother still lives, as a profound influence and he goes back as often as possible. It certainly gave him a notion of overcoming the odds and succeeding – themes he frequently returns to.

“I played weighing 10 stones, which is unheard of as a striker. I knew I was playing against bigger, physical players. So I had to find ways of overcoming and getting the better of my opponent and hopefully I made the most of what I had.”

It’s been a long journey for the kid from The Gorbals, who dreamt of emulating his idol, Liam Brady. His playing career saw him enjoy highlights such as playing for the Republic of Ireland in 1994 against Holland, knowing how much it meant to his Irish parents; he was co-manager at Falkirk when they won the Scottish first division title – he was still playing at the time and scored a hat trick on the day; and, scoring in the play-off final for Bolton in 1995, to see them promoted to the Premiership.

“And I have to say the achievement as a manager at Burnley totally surpassed the achievements as a player winning at Wembley, no doubt about that,” he adds.

For somebody so keen to play the game there must have been difficulties in the transition to manager – even this season he’s turned out for Burnley’s reserves! In addition to that, there are a range of different responsibilities.

“As a player you know that if you do well the manager’s going to pick you. As a manager, you’re not only responsible for eleven players and the team, you’re responsible for a whole town - particularly at this club.

“I absolutely love everything about the town. Most of my career was in Scotland and you’d see buses leaving to support Celtic or Rangers from every part of the country. I love the fact that the first day I was in the job, I went through the town centre and all I saw was Burnley tops. You didn’t see Man U or Liverpool. And I thought to myself, this is my type of place.

“I believe when you walk through the front doors of a place, you know if there’s an atmosphere conducive to a good working environment. And I felt that the first day I walked in at Turf Moor - so I’m big on that, I’m big on atmosphere, trying to build a family club. So, as a manager - as opposed to being a player - I think that it’s important not to just represent your club but your town well.”

“We have an unbelievable fan base – when Turf Moor’s full as it invariably is now, it’s the best possible atmosphere. I mean I’ve played at Wembley and all these 60,000 and 70,000 capacity stadiums, but I’m telling you when Turf Moor’s at capacity, it’s the best atmosphere you’ll find in football. And that’s been driving us on.

“We’re now in the Premier league and our town’s population is less than Old Trafford’s capacity. But we’re in there and we made it and we don’t want to give it up. Burnley’s support in terms of percentage of population… we’ve got the biggest support in the world. Nearly one in four comes out to watch us - no other place has that, we’ve got an unbelievable fan base."

Coyle clearly takes his responsibility to the town and area very seriously – he wants success for the team, but expresses a wish that it can have a ‘trickledown effect’, create positive headlines about the place and help with moves towards regeneration.

“There’s a perception that Burnley’s some sort of back water, well it’s not. Anybody that gives us the time of day, both in terms of the club and the town and surrounding areas will see that there are a lot of not only nice people, but quality businesses.

“We’ve all known difficult times, so I think when you have a chance to be in the limelight for whatever reason, one you don’t give it up and two you look to maximise that. It irks me that people who have never set foot in Burnley want to write us off - and it’s the same with the football team, they’ve never seen us play, but they want to write us off. So all I can say is, if it’s the football or if it’s the area, come and see the quality that’s on show - I think it’s important everybody recognises that.

“In all things, I want to be the very best I can be. And equally I want the very best for this football club. First priority is to maintain premier league status, and put a plan in place that will serve the club well for years to come.

“Who’d have thought I’d be offered the Celtic job and turn it down? Celtic’s my team and they’ll always be my team because that’s what I grew up with, but I recognise we’re in the best league in the world and we’ve got a fantastic football club - that gave me the platform.

“Brendan (Flood) and the Chairman saw enough in me to see I was the right person to take the club forward and I respected that and I said that in the summer that it was important that I showed loyalty to the club.

“I want Burnley to flourish and I want to be the manager who does that.

“I believe I can take this club on and with the right backing - not meaning to put the Chairman and Brendan under any pressure - but come January we’ll obviously need money to push things on and give us another kick again. But if it does put pressure on them, then so be it,” he jokes.

“We all we want the best for Burnley Football Club and I want to make sure we make a real go of this and we’ll leave no stone unturned in our efforts.”

Daily Telegraph covers Mobile Broadband Supermarket

I'm very please with the coverage won for our client in yesterday's Daily Telegraph - read it here

Obviously, it's pleasing to win coverage and drive traffic to the site, but it marks a real stepping up of our activity using social media.

In the past I've run campaigns where we've paid a lot of money for research - usually with I've always gone for a regional split within the questions because this means you can produce one generic national news release, but then re-write 'regionalised' versions, which sell-in really well to the big regional papers (Evening Standard, M.E.N., Liverpool Echo, Glasgow Herald etc.) - not to mention regional radio. Effectively, you give yourself several bites of the cherry.

The great thing about using Twitter in the way we are doing is that we're picking up qualitative customer feedback for free, which we can collate and then use nationally and regionally, in order to create an ongoing picture of quality of service. It's a great resource for the site, but also it gives a frequent opportunity to comment to the media!

Thursday, 22 October 2009 launches best monthly deals round up

Comparison site helps consumers identify best new deals and chance to win a PAYG Dongle!

MANCHESTER-based mobile connectivity specialists have launched a monthly round-up to make consumers aware of which networks are offering the best deals to suit their circumstances.

With mobile broadband usage is soaring, the variety of deals in the marketplace can be confusing, so provides neutral and transparent consumer support – on occasion advising consumers that want to buy a "dongle" that it might not be the right choice for them. With the dongle market set for massive growth, MobileBroadbandSupermarket's approach is to help consumers understand the variety of offerings available - not just in terms of price, but also usage limits and levels of service.

Andy Gott, Managing Director of, said: “Anybody considering a mobile broadband package, should sign up for our monthly round up, as it will keep you abreast of the best current offers. Not only will you receive a monthly email, full of the latest mobile broadband best buys, you'll also been entered into our monthly draw, which means that you're in with a chance of winning a Pay As You Go mobile broadband dongle!”

Andy Gott, continued: "The benefit of signing up for the update is that you will be able to make a confident buying decision, without doing hours of research first – it will enable you to make an informed decision about which network is offering the best mobile broadband deal to suit your circumstances.

Mobile connectivity devices, or “dongles” as they are commonly known, are an ideal way for people to stay connected on the move. They are especially useful to business travellers, who may need to get online whilst at the airport or hotel; for students, who need connectivity but may not have a fixed line connection; and also for some people in rural communities, who may not have very good ADSL coverage.

- ENDS -

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Yesterday afternoon I interviewed Burnley manager Owen Coyle for the Scruples Menswear publication that we produce. (Have a look at last year's here

He was as candid as ever - and besides the usual charm and intelligence we've all come to expect, it really struck me how professional and accomplished he is when facing the media. In a previous life I was a journalist and I can honestly say he's amongst the very best people I've interviewed. He wipes the floor with some of the chinless chief executives or vacuous vocalists I've dealt with in my time. It just goes to show, you can have all the media training in the world, but if you've got a set of values that you're passionate about and you've got a bit of personality, it can go a long way.

He was happy to chat for a while afterwards and even offered words of comfort for us Clarets who are still feeling the post-derby blues. He pointed out that Burnley completed nearly four times as many passes as our rivals - a stark indication of our different approach to the game. Referring to the return fixture, he said that March can't come quickly enough. Indeed!

When the publication comes out - in just over a week - we'll put the full transcript of Owen's interview up here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Twitter clocks up 5 billion

Social media site Twitter has clocked up 5 billion tweets. Nevermind the fact that a reasonable percentage of those will be drivel...

We're finding that Twitter is increasingly important and we're using it to successfully drive traffic to the iSM (Information Services Monthly) site -, as well as those of clients like MobileBroadbandSupermarket (MBS).

Increasingly, we're finding new applications too - along with MBS, we're planning to use twitter to generate regionalised feedback on the quality of service from Mobile Broadband network providers, so we can enhance the service on their site, but also use it as the basis for regional pieces of PR across the UK.

Read more about the 5 billionth tweet here -



Saturday, 17 October 2009

Caught in a Bubble

Tomorrow sees the resumption of hostilities in the oldest derby game in world football – Blackburn Rovers versus Burnley.

I’m one of only 3,000 Burnley fans being allowed to travel to the game, which has been designated a ‘bubble fixture’, where extraordinary police powers are invoked as a supposed means to maintain order and reduce the likelihood of violence and disorder.

This means I’ll have to be at Turf Moor, Burnley’s ground, at shortly after 9am tomorrow, to travel to Ewood Park, Blackburn’s ground, for a 1pm kick-off. The journey is just 11 miles – and our convoy of 60 coaches will take on the short journey down the M65 to get us inside the ground 2 – 3 hours before the game starts. Blackburn pubs won’t be opened before the game and there will be a massive police presence. It’s incredibly draconian and it places enormous inconvenience upon ordinary decent supporters of both clubs (the return fixture at Turf Moor is subject to the same measures) but, let’s face it, there is some history...

I’m not entirely sure where the rivalry and animosity originally comes from – but it’s a lot more than just your average local rivalry, like those that form the basis of so many other derby games. I’ve heard people say that the rivalry dates back to the civil war or the reformation – where the towns were on different sides. I’ve heard its origins were sectarian – blue and white Blackburn were supposedly a protestant club - there was certainly an imported Presbyterian Scottish element to their early history, as they were the first club to embrace ‘professionalism’ in the nineteenth century. Meanwhile Burnley’s roots may well have been more Catholic – the town saw huge Irish immigration in the nineteenth century, as its mushrooming population growth was fuelled by the ‘potato famine’ and the industrial revolution – some of my own forebears were amongst this wave of immigrants. Indeed, before we adopted our famous Claret & Blue, between 1900 and 1910 Burnley wore green shirts. I’ve also heard that as the towns industrialised, disputes arose about goods moving up and down the Leeds Liverpool canal. Burnley people alleging that Blackburn took the best cotton off the barges before they got to Burnley.

The industrial revolution however, saw football progress into a mass sport – and then as today, Lancashire was at the forefront. Both Burnley and Blackburn were amongst the founder members of the world’s first football league in 1888 and this is what arguably makes the East Lancashire Derby between these two mill towns the oldest in world football.

In the post war era, despite being champions of England 50 years ago, Burnley and its football club went into decline – the process hastened by the abolition of the maximum wage for players - a move which was bound to tilt the game in favour of the city clubs over the town clubs, due to their generally greater resources.

By the early 1980s both clubs were pale shadows of what they had once been, but the rivalry was as intense as ever – an article from the Guardian in 2000 comments:

“Burnley have not beaten their bitter rivals since 1979. In 1982-83 Blackburn achieved a league double over the Clarets with Simon Garner scoring twice at Ewood Park in April in a 2-1 victory. The visiting Burnley fans responded by throwing a smoke bomb on to the pitch and a bottle at the Rovers goalkeeper Terry Gennoe before tearing down the roof of the Darwen End. When Garner slotted home the decisive penalty, the travelling support tried to burn the stand down, despite being in it at the time, as a full-scale riot erupted.”

In the years that followed that notorious game, Burnley’s demise was complete as we had to win our last game of the season in 1987 to stay in the football league. As we began to claw our way back a few years later, we were beaten in the Fourth division play-offs by Torquay. As the dismal second leg petered out, a light aircraft buzzed Turf Moor with a banner trailing behind it – “Staying down 4 Ever – Love Rovers. Ha ha ha.”

I was in the Cricket Field Stand that night and if I’d had access to a shoulder launched anti-aircraft device I would have used it.

Shortly after that Jack Walker started pumping his millions into Blackburn and the club who had Margaret Thatcher as their honorary vice president, ascended to the pinnacle of English football ‘winning’ (buying) the title in 1995. Meanwhile, we were being relegated to the third tier after an inauspicious one season stay in the second. It was a loathsome period. We were well and truly in the doldrums and Blackburn were firmly ensconced in the happy, shiny world of the Premiership with all its millions. Many Burnley fans – myself included – blame them in part for the hideous parody the game has become...where hyper-spending has artificially created a playing field that is less even than it has ever been - the uglification of the beautiful game. Blackburn were undoubtedly complicit in starting that ball rolling – and helped sell the soul of the game for the one bite of the cherry it gave them in ’95.

The two clubs last met in the league in 2000 when we were humiliated by 0 – 2 and 5 – 0 reverses. In truth that season we were a third tier team punching above its weight in the Championship, whilst they were a Premiership outfit in all but name - they had their multi-millions and we had a brass buttons budget. Our manager at the time, Stan Ternent described the expectations of Burnley fans as 'wanting champagne football on beer money'.

Our only subsequent meeting was in the FA Cup in 2005 - a 0 – 0 draw at Turf Moor was followed by a 2 – 1 defeat at Ewood, but at least this time our pride was intact after a very creditable performance against a much superior squad.

However, since then things have changed. Blackburn’s turgid, functional, clatter-ball, lack of style has seen them become firmly established as a lower Premiership also ran. Meanwhile, with a modicum of (by current day standards) modest investment and the appointment of the charismatic and inspirational Owen Coyle as manager, Burnley have gelled into a team that has become renowned for easy-on-the-eye football that is both entertaining and effective. That culminated in a superb run during the spring that saw Burnley make the championship play-offs, and a swashbuckling display at Reading saw us then go to Wembley to blunt the Blades of Sheffield United.

As Wade Elliott’s wonder goal hit the back of the net that afternoon, I picked up my son, Jack and we went absolutely mad. It’s not lost on me that Jack’s namesake – my Grandad, who went to school just 300 metres from Turf Moor – took me to my first game along with my Dad, when I was just five years old. As the final whistle blew that day at Wembley I held both my kids aloft – Jack and Ella – both in their Burnley kits and I felt as proud as punch. I don’t mind admitting that my bottom lip had a bit of a wobble. I could barely believe we were back in the big time – there have been points when I didn’t believe I’d live to see the day.

No sooner had the initial celebrations died down than we were chanting: “Bring on the Bastards!” And, despite the presence in the Premiership of world class teams Like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United – the first fixture I looked for when this season’s list was released was Blackburn, aka "Bastard Rovers".

So, tomorrow, at last, we meet the old enemy. I have to say, I know a good number of Rovers fans – friends, acquaintances and business associates. All of them decent sorts - but tomorrow that goes out of the window. As I’m taken in a quasi-military operation to Ewood, I’ll be wishing for one thing only – that they have their most awful day in thirty years of football and I have my best.

To outside observers, it may seem parochial - a fixture caught in a timewarp, but the old cotton mill derby stirs the passions like no other. For those of us in the Claret corner of East Lancashire, this is the first time for thirty years we meet Blackburn with more than just hope. This time we know we’ve got as good a chance as we’ve had in a generation. I can barely describe how much I want this result. It would mark a right of passage and confirm – Burnley are back!


Friday, 16 October 2009

Connected Finland

Yesterday the Finnish government decided that Broadband access was a 'legal right'. This will make BTs universal service obligation look like chicken-feed - especially as they're saying they want access to 100mbps by 2015!

Read more on iSM (Information Services Monthly) here:-

Enterprising Pendle

Over the last two weeks I attended a 'Boot Camp' at which the leadership team from Enterprising Pendle (our Community Enterprise Board) and Remi Thackrey, our Enterprise Facilitator, were trained. This brings us up to the point where we can now operate as an effective board and hopefully work with active clients to help businesses and social enterprises to be successful.

Last night we had a board meeting and I was elected as chair. I'm really pleased about it - and very grateful to those colleagues who proposed and supported me. My intention is to support my colleagues and ensure we work as harmoniously as we can, whilst endeavouring to reflect the wide variety of different interests across the borough. I think our work is best summed up by the following points.

• Enterprising Pendle is a network of local people with a wide range of experience, who are drawn from every section of our community.

• Enterprising Pendle is committed to supporting local enterprise and helping people to turn their business ideas into reality.

• Enterprising Pendle is a listening network that will give you confidential, high quality, open-ended, FREE OF CHARGE help to develop your idea for a businessor a project.

• Enterprising Pendle employs and works with an Enterprise Facilitator to provide free, confidential support to local people with an idea for starting or expanding a business or project.

• Enterprising Pendle recognises that Pendle’s greatest asset is its people, and together, with a little help from our friends, we will make Pendle a better place to live, work and play.

If any of this chimes with your gut reaction, let me know, as I'd be keen to get you to meet Remi - or get you inducted, so you can become an active board member.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


We've just issued the following release for our client

Online comparison site helps consumers see the wood from the trees!

MANCHESTER-based mobile connectivity specialists have today announced that they have partnered with mokugift to plant a tree for every sale made through the site.

Andy Gott, Managing Director of, said:

“We considered ways we could be proactive about using our business to promote our commitment to sustainability – so tree planting really appealed to us. We’re delighted to be partnering with mokugift as they are an official partner of the United Nations Environment Programme's Billion Tree Campaign.”

“We love technology, but we're all active outdoor types too, and if we're not squeezing in a long weekend surfing in North Wales, or cycling in the Pennines, we're taking a well earned break for a snowboarding trip to the Alps.”

“There's nothing we love more than being involved with, and thoroughly enjoying, the planet on which we live, and it's very important to us that we do what we can to help keep it healthy.”

“At, we view technology as a potential means to reduce our impact on the planet – we can reduce international travel and therefore our carbon emissions using tele-conferencing, video-conferencing and webinars. And, of course this is all vastly enhanced by the ability to use your dongle and connect from anywhere.”

Mokugift plant trees in tropical zones as they have been proven to be the most beneficial to the fight against global warming. The trees they plant help reduce climate change and global warming by absorbing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. An average tree inhales 26 lbs of carbon dioxide per year and exhales enough Oxygen for a family of four for a year. Trees also reflect solar radiation back into space by evaporating water back into the atmosphere to increase cloudiness.

- ENDS -

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

LinkedIn clocks up 50 million users

LinkedIn, the professional users social media, has announced that they have just surpassed 50 million users.

Not quite Facebook numbers, but pretty impressive for a niche network. It took nearly sixteen months for LinkedIn to reach its first million users. The last million took only 12 days. And all this whilst other social media sites have seen plateaus in growth.

Also LinkedIn seems to be devoid of spam or bot accounts - a good thing considering the 'friends' I've made on Twitter who are implausibly attractive young women who seem to want to sell me their 'hot pics'!

Anyway, for those of you interested, you can find me at:-

Friday, 9 October 2009

Social Media Revolution

I spoke at an event a couple of weeks ago about networking for new businesses. I thought it would be useful to go beyond 'organic' networking with people and also look at some of the issues raised by networking via social media.

We've had some success with this approach at BrandSpankin' ( using the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (amongst others!). For example we've quadrupled traffic to iSM ( using LinkedIn and we've significantly assisted MobileBroadbandSupermarket ( already as well as built a number of inbound links, which is great for their SEO strategy.

We've also just put a Facebook group together for Scruples menswear. We produce an annual 60 page magazine for Scruples which is distributed to their database of 4,500+ customers that they've gained over 25 years. You can have a look at last year's magazine here:-

Our intention is to carry a piece in the 2009 magazine promoting membership of the Scruples Menswear Facebook group. As the number of members grows it will give them an opportunity to message members with offers and updates on new lines, as well as their made-to-measure service. It's cheaper than direct mailing (given that it's free!) and they can track an immediate response!

Businesses that are in any doubt about digital marketing are overlooking the fact that by going digital, you can hit your targets in context and in location, rather than taking an old fashioned, expensive, and somewhat scattergun approach. As mobile marketing explodes onto the scene in the next year or so, the landscape will change beyiond recognition.

Anyway, if you're not entirely convinced, don't take my word for it - check this out:-

Thursday, 8 October 2009


I've just seen the new Trust4Business site - they're our landlords here at Pendle Innovation Centre. The BrandSpankin' office is depicted in the shot on the page I've linked to! The site was done by Door4 - their MD Leon Calverley took the shot of us in action.

And, on a related note, I heard over the weekend that Leon had just become Dad to a baby girl, Emma Rose. Conratulations to Leon and Kat!

Friday, 2 October 2009 launches FREE student guide to Dongles

Free guide seeks to help student’s make informed decisions and save money, the online comparison service, has launched a web –based student guide to help students choose the best mobile connectivity to suit their circumstances.

The document is hosted on the site at:-

The guide is free to everybody - so students can download it, but it’s also being made freely available to webmasters on student sites and forums and editors on student publications.

Andy Gott, the managing director of, said:
“We published this guide to help students avoid some of the pitfalls involved with mobile broadband contracts, such as hidden charges and service performance issues. With so many students now considering mobile broadband as an alternative to land line based broadband, these considerations are becoming more important for students wanting to set up a broadband connection during their time at university.”

“We've timed the publication to coincide with fresher’s weeks up and down the country, as this is the time when many students start to think about how they're going to get connected to the internet.”

Recent research has shown that Pay as you go mobile (PAYG) broadband deals are extremely popularity among undergraduates living on a limited budget. Some reports have suggested pre-paid mobile broadband sales have risen by over 70 per cent

Whilst students are aware of the flexibility of some of these deals, some packages incur hidden charges and performance issues. The PAYG dongle route also offers students an alternative to land lines and arguments about usage and billing with house and flat-mates.

With the launch of the student guide, are seeking to add clarity to the marketplace and help students to avoid the pitfalls.

Andy Gott added: “We want to ensure that students can make an informed decision based on the dongle deals that best meet their requirements, rather than marketing hype.”

The PDF student guide is entirely free to use and redistribute - and it’s less than 160kb (which is smaller than many web pages), so shouldn't cause any problems for webmasters who decide to host it on their sites.

In addition, are happy to advise anybody requiring any technical assistance to upload the guide to their sites.

The document is hosted on the site at:-

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Ernesto Sirolli

Last night I went to see Ernesto Sirolli of the Sirolli Institute talk about Community Enterprise Boards and Enterprise Facilitation. It was very compelling stuff and his delivery is excellent and really passionate. I chatted with Ernesto for about twenty minutes later in the evening about the book he's currently working on - I suggested that he should have an editor, as his publisher had initially suggested a ghost writer. I told him I may know just the man. Smudge...where are you??

Burnley Networking Event

I spoke this evening at an event at HIX Burnley, that was organised by Kate Mayers of Burnley and Pendle Enterprise Trust. I spoke about networking as part of your marketing plan for SMEs. Also speaking was Andy Cooke from Positive Solutions. It was an excellent event and the majority of attendees were in start up mode, so Andy and I had to think on our feet as we got some pretty interesting interjections. All the attendees stayed back for a good hour or so after the event, which is a fair indication taht they got something from it.

Online advertising overtakes TV

I heard on the radio this morning whilst driving to work that online advertising had finally overtaken TV in terms of revenue in the UK.

It's not at all surprising really. During a recession it makes sense for businesses to tighten the belt and in terms of marketing spend. You need to be able account for your spend in terms response and return on investment. And online gives you just that - it's dead easy to monitor, so for every pound spent you can account for what comes in.

The important thing is - the most successful online advertisers tend to be the most successful at marketing themselves through other channels too. So the key to it is to have an appropriate mix - and the affordability of online methods (eshots, pay-per-click, SEO, proximity marketing) means that well organised small businesses who have a strategic approach built into their business plan have reall opportunity to punch above their weight.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Money saving iPhone application

I've just come across a great - FREE - iPhone application that can save you a bit of brass. You can find it on the app store as "0870" - it uses the same principle as the site Say No to 0870 - which allows you to dial normal numbers in place of 0845, 0870 etc.

Basically it allows your iPhone to recognise when you dial non-geographic or premium rate numbers - and then pull up the normal 01 or 02 number behind the 08 or 09. This means that calls to banks, utility companies and credit card companies that can cost you 10p per minute or more now go through your minutes package, so don't cost you a fortune. Excellent - it sticks in the throat when you're calling them to tell them about crap service and they're making money out of your call! appoints Jordan Communications to handle PR strategy

Here's a transcript of a press release we issued on Thursday announcing our new contract win!, the online comparison service has appointed Jordan Communications (BrandSpankin's parent company) to handle their public relations, as they embark upon a significant growth strategy.

With mobile broadband usage soaring, has been building a reputation as a neutral and transparent consumer champion - even advising some consumers that want to buy a "dongle" that it might not be the right choice for them. So, with the dongle market set for continued growth, MobileBroadbandSupermarket's approach is to educate consumers about the variety of offerings available - not just in terms of price, but also usage limits and levels of service.

Julian Jordan of Jordan Communications added: "We're delighted to be working for It's a perfect match for our skill sets and experience. We've passionately supported the switching agenda over the years, so to be supporting the efforts of a business that is dedicated to adding clarity to a potentially confusing emerging marketplace is a real coup for us. The beauty of the service is its simplicity and its honesty - not only is it easy to use, if a dongle purchase isn't the best option for your circumstances, they'll tell you so."

Andy Gott, the Managing Director of, said: "The major benefit we deliver to people who want to buy a dongle is that we help them to make a confident buying decision, without doing hours of research first. Therefore, we want to build awareness of our service to enable consumers to make informed decisions about which network is offering the best mobile broadband deal to suit their circumstances. We chose Jordan Communications to drive our strategy forward because they have significant experience in the fields of telecoms, internet and personal finance - especially around the 'switching' agenda.

Mobile connectivity devices, or “dongles” as they are commonly known, are an ideal way for people to stay connected on the move. They are especially useful to business travellers, who may need to get online whilst at the airport or hotel; for students, who need connectivity but may not have a fixed line connection; and also for some people in rural communities, who may not have very good ADSL coverage.


Lancashire's Longest Doodle!!

This week we set off on our attempt to create Lancashire’s Longest Doodle. Besides the fact that we hope to raise a bit of money for Pendleside Hospice, we want to get people involved in a basic artistic activity – as we think that creativity spawns ideas that can be the bed-rock of regeneration. We’ve seen it happen in London in places like Shoreditch - and we’d love to be part of a process like that in Lancashire and the North West.

The doodle itself is taking shape on a 200 metre length of cotton because we wanted to reference the former economic glories of our area, but our real focus is on future successes! The response so far has been great – and the enthusiasm of the pupils at the two schools we visited last week has been really excellent. We doodled 25 metres in two days last week!

Any schools, businesses or community organisations interested in participating in the doodle should call BrandSpankin’ on 01282 878 301. (

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Enterprising Pendle

The Community Enterprise Board had a very productive meeting this week. We've not only appointed our facilitator in Remi Thackrey, but we've also scheduled our 'boot-camp' where we'll have an intensive four days worth of training. The bit that comes after that is the exciting bit for me, we'll be up and running and clients - both existing businesses and start ups - will benefit from the collective experience of the board. There are numerous examples of Enterprise Boards, but in Pennine Lancashire we have 5 that border one another. So long as we maintain the momentum, I think that we could create something extremely powerful that will have a profound effect on the perception of the area and will contribute enormously to regeration.


Down but not out...

I've just been reading the comments of fellow Burnley fans after the 4 - 0 trouncing by Liverpool at Anfield - it's very disappointing stuff. I'm not so much bothered that we got tonked - after all the average 'value' of one of their first team players is more than it cost to assemble our whole team. No, the really disappointing thing is to hear that - as expected - the 3,000 Burnley supporters never stopped signing and creating an atmosphere, whilst the other 40,000 who attended barely came out of their corporate comas. Sadly, this is what the promised land of the Premiership is all about - and I know from experience that it's no better at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge or the Emirates. I can take a trouncing - but I couldn't bear for my club to lose it's passion and tradition. I'm sure there are many Scousers and Mancs who rue the day their clubs sold their souls.


Twitter does ancient and modern...

I came across the story of Ivy Bean this week - the 104 year old twitterer. Apparently she'd already maxed out her Facebook quota of 5,000 friends. So she's now activiely tweeting with...wait for it...27,000 followers.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

BrandSpankin’ barometer?

It’s been very quiet on the blog front! In part, that’s because we’ve been so busy of late. I’m not going to be a hostage to fortune and predict green shoots of recovery, but the number of leads we’re generating at the moment is very encouraging. It’s still taking longer to convert leads, but I suppose it’s like the old football cliché – it’s better to be creating chances and not scoring goals, than not creating chances. So what are the implications of all this for you?

Well, I see BrandSpankin’ as a bit of a barometer business in East Lancashire. We deliver marketing services to clients from all sectors and we work for businesses large and small. If the number of leads we’re generating is increasing (probably tenfold month-on-month comparing August with January), then I suspect that it’s a good sign of improvement in the local economy as a whole.


Enterprising Pendle

I’m excited at the prospects that the Community Enterprise Board presents to the area. Enterprising Pendle, as it’s known is relatively nascent, but we took a big step forward recently with the appointment of Remi Thackrey, as Enterprise Facilitator. He’s a very personable guy and he’s committed to the regeneration of the area, so I’m sure he’ll make a success of it.

The board itself is based on the Sirolli Institute methodology ( It appeals to me in many ways, not least because it’s not a prescriptive, top down approach to regeneration, but a grass roots, non-bureaucratic approach, that has a real track record of success.


Radio Gaga

I’ve done several radio pieces recently – one on BBC Radio 4 and a couple of pieces on BBC Radio Lancashire, which included being co-commentator for the Burnley victory over Manchester United. BBC strictures on impartiality went out of the window when Robbie Blake’s screamer hit the back of the net and I went mental live on the air! It’s a fantastic time to be a Claret at the moment!

The Radio 4 programme I was interviewed for was called ‘Divided Britain’. I think my contribution was there for the purposes of ‘balance’ – at least one person had to be on there who actually loves the area, thinks it’s a good place, full of good people and a worthwhile place to live and work. If the remit of the programme is to focus on problems (and let’s face it there is a clue in the name Divided Britain, which makes it fairly clear they’re not going to trumpet the potential of Nelson as a tourist destination!), then it’s not difficult to find the negatives. My problem with this approach is that it means the tail wags the dog – the lunatic fringe will often get the airtime and we potentially hand the initiative and agenda to Fascists and Fundamentalists.

I’m not suggesting that we ignore the problems that we face, but I do think we are generally hindered by a national media that often characterises the area as full of people who are marginalised, alienated and disenfranchised.

For those of you interested in what Divided Britain had to say, you can hear it again here:-

Monday, 6 July 2009

National Three Peaks Challange Update

I had a great weekend walking the National Three Peaks Challenge. I’m still a bit sore and tired, but it was well worth it. There will be more to follow this week, but for now, if you could make any contribution, we’d be delighted as we want to be able to donate a really decent sum to the Kay Mason Foundation (

When we got down Ben Nevis yesterday we were all elated, so we had a meal and a couple of drinks, during which Mark announced he’d had an email he wanted to read out – here it is!

“Canon Chivers has told me about your amazing fundraising efforts to help Luvo, one of the many millions of young South Africans whose potential can be unlocked by generous hearts like yours.

I congratulate you on completing the three peaks challenge.

I hesitate to quote my friend, our beloved former President, Nelson Mandela, “never think about how many steps you’ve climbed, until you reach the mountain-top!” – but I hope the view is really worthwhile.

What you’ve done for the Kay Mason Foundation will make such a difference

Thank you.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu”

Thursday, 2 July 2009

National Three Peaks Walk

I’m imminently due to do some charity walking – and given everybody’s excellent support last time, I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask you for a small contribution to what I‘m sure you’ll all agree is a really worthy cause.

Last year’s exertions saw me and a bunch of friends do the Yorkshire 3 peaks on the coldest, wettest midsummer’s day in living memory. We covered 26 miles and three mountains in just over 11 hours. With gale force winds and limited visibility we were subjected to rain that was like facing a water cannon. It doesn’t bear repeating the state of my knees and feet for a few days afterwards, but as the aches and pains wore off, the satisfaction of having done something fairly daunting started to sink in. Plus we’d raised £1,500 for BLISS the premature baby charity (something I really care about, given that Jack, my son, was born nearly 3 months early).

So, this year we’ve decided that over the weekend of 3rd-5th July 2009, we are going to attempt to complete the gruelling National 3 Peaks Walk.

The planned itinerary is as follows:

Friday 3rd July – Walk Snowdon (3560ft), the highest point in Wales, taking around 5 hours
Saturday 4th July – Walk Scafell Pike (3209ft), the highest point in England taking around 7 hours
Sunday 5th July– Walk the mighty Ben Nevis (4408ft), the highest point in Scotland & Great Britain taking around 7 hours

This year we’re walking for The Kay Mason Foundation (, which helps fund the education of children in Africa. The charity has all its operating costs paid for by a private individual, so every single penny raised will go directly to the children who need it. One of the Trustees is also a local man with whom we have contact, so post event, he will be able to show us how the money raised will make a real difference.

Even better, one of my friends who is doing the walk with me works for a bank (boo…hiss…), who have agreed to match £ for £ what he raises. As such, I’m proposing to use money I raise to sponsor him to increase the matched sum from the bank - in order to maximise our final contribution. Anything you can contribute would be gratefully received and of course I’ll report back to you on how we progressed, how much we raise and how it’s going to be used.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

C2 Website goes live!

We're delighted with the C2-UK website that we've built - it's just gone live today. C2-UK is an East Lancashire telecoms company that provides services to business customers. We've recently revamped their corporate identity, giving them a fresh, clean new look - we’ve followed this work up with a variety of marketing materials and have now launched their new website (have a look at the link below). The site extends their fresh look and feel, makes them look credible, professional and approachable - acting as a lead generation and sales channel. It's thoroughly optimised to feature very highly on Google and other search engines, so we expect them to see some traffic - but just as importantly, we think it will be pretty memorable when people get there!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

This week Connectivity will launch their "Mobile Directory Service" 118 800. The service is set to be a landmark in the evolution of information services since the derugulation of the old 192 service in the UK. The difference between this service and other 118 directory enquiries services is that it will be giving out personal mobile numbers, having acquired 18 million UK mobile numbers from data brokers etc. On one level it's a great idea and long overdue. However, the obvious question that will be raised is about the protection of people's privacy.
At BrandSpankin' (, we have a close relationship with a US business called Wireless Directory Networks (WDN) - they developed a privacy proposition which squares the circle, in that it allows mobile users to be available whilst not actually giving out their numbers. Below is a link to an interview in Information Services Monthly that I did with Jeff Strunk, WDN's CEO.

Every time we're about to get ahead of ourselves, we check out a bit of Bill Hicks - always a good thing for us Marketeers to be put in our place once in a while...

Monday, 15 June 2009

I did an interview for BBC Radio 4 on Saturday that goes out on the 15th September. Ostensibly the interview was about the opening of the new ACE Centre (Arts, Culture and Enterprise) in Nelson. The venue houses a recording studio, dance and drama studio, creative arts room, gallery space, meeting rooms and function rooms.

The thrust of the Radio 4 piece is about community relations and I made the point that Pendle (& Burnley) issues really relate to economic matters - so the ACE centre is an excellent addition to local amenities (especially as the arts can be a springboard for regeneration).

The towns of East Lancashire lost their reason 'to be' after the decline of textiles and mining and we're now looking to find a new way forward. That being the case, many of us in the area share a frustration that national media often depict us in negative terms, despite the fact that many of us are actively engaged in constructive initiatives that are inclusive and should have a positive outcome.

BrandSpankin' ( for example, is engaged with local enterprise trusts, I'm also on the community enterprise board and in September we're going to mentor Business Studies students from Marsden Heights Community College. We're not just blowing our own trumpet here - we're aware of dozens of individuals and businesses who are similarly engaged in a constructive fashion.

So, those in the national media should take note - we're not all racists and most of us loathe everything the BNP stand for. And those who make excuses for the disenfranchised and alienated (who vote for the far-right) - should bear in mind that such people are generally thick and ignorant...and there's no excuse for that. There's no excuse for having a knee-jerk simplistic answer to a set of problems that are in fact very complex. And, given the fact that the area needs to see an injection of inward investment, there can also be no excuse for voting in such a way that is sure to drive it away. It's a definite case of turkeys voting for Christmas...

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

We had a stand at last week's BeConnected event at Turf Moor, Burnley and as part of the event we gave away a free £500 marketing mentoring session which was won by Chris Hoy, the Technical Director of Securstor24 ( We're looking forward to helping Securestor plan how to build awareness, generate leads and ultimately make more money! If you'd be interesting in a mentoring session, give us a call (01282 878 301).

Securestor have got a really good proposition offering secure data storage for SMEs. It's definitely worth checking their site as it gives a very thorough appraisal of what's available and at what price. Secure data storage is an absolute must - a first step that every business should consider as part of their disaster recovery/business continuity plan.

Friday, 5 June 2009

I just wanted to thank Kate and the BeConnected team ( for an excellent event on Wednesday evening. Besides an inspirational presentation from Helen Colley of Farmhouse Fare, we got loads of interest and several really good leads from our stand. Helen's story and the fact that she's just been bought out by Daniels Food for £10million just go to show what can be done and exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit in East Lancs.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

It's going to be a busy week for BrandSpankin' !! Tomorrow we have a stand at BeConnected - the East Lancs networking event that takes place at Turf Moor. We're giving away a FREE £500 marketing support course, plus we're still in the mood to celebrate Burnley's promotion to the Premiership, so we're giving away a bottle of Bubbly at our stand.

Here's an eshot we issued yesterday to promote our presence at the event:-

On Thursday Jacqueline and Camilla will be attending the Chamber's women in business event, so look out for them there.

And in-between those events there's a meeting of Pendle Enterprise Board - now called Enterprising Pendle.

We've got a number of projects coming to fruition at the moment - and with 2 client websites going live in the coming few days we should have some excellent links to post up here very soon!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Last night was the launch party at Press Room - the Bar and Restaurant that is situated in Burnley's historic Mechanics Theatre. Press Room is a BrandSpankin' client - we formulated their brand and have produced most of their sales and marketing collateral. Have a look at some of it here.

Anyway, a great night was had by all - so best wishes to Gavin, Neil and Sam on what we think is going to be a really successful venture.


On another note, talk in the office, has been dominated by the ongoing media feeding frenzy and public outrage at the Parliamentary expenses row. We're split as to whether we'd want to provide a 'crisis comms' role to help them dig the way out of the hole. We're all pretty disgusted by it - exemption from capital gains tax is one thing, but why should they gain all that equity from second homes that we're paying for as tax payers?

Our suggestion is that there should be no second home allowance, there should be total transparency (ie: publication of all MPs receipts) and that they should all live in either halls of residence when they're in London - or alternatively, if that's a security issue, they should stay in cheap hotels and then claim legitimate expenses like the rest of us have to do when we are working in London!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The morning after the night before

Following last night's heroics that saw Burnley make the final of the Championship play-offs, I'm a tad hoarse and slightly worse for wear!

Nevertheless, we'll be 'circulating' today as we attend Pendle employers forum at lunch time and this evening there's a meeting of the Pendle Community Enterprise Board.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

BrandSpankin' enters the blogmosphere!

Welcome to the BrandSpankin' Blog for all things connected with Marketing, Graphic Design, Web and Media Relations - all with an East Lancs twang. And just now and then, we might ski 'off-piste' and comment on this, that or the other.

Just a few things for starters:-

- We're keeping our fingers crossed for Burnley who play Reading tonight in the second leg of the Championship play offs. Come on you Clarets.

- Before that we'll be in attendance at the Chamber of Commerce event at Stanley House in Mellor.

In the meantime, I'm just off to try to claim parliamentary expenses on my Prince Albert...