Guest blogging: what are the benefits?

Guest blogging for other sites has so many benefits. Take a look at what you can gain from it AND how you can get started – easily and quickly, with these simple steps.


When you post your content on other people’s sites, you’re gaining exposure for both them and you. You both benefit from the exchange – they get to give their readers extra content and you get your name in front of those readers – meaning further exposure for you. Continue reading “Guest blogging: what are the benefits?”

Stand out from the crowd with Sales – Guest Post by Steve Clarke

This week we are lucky enough to have a Guest Blog from Steve Clarke of Eureka Sales.  I have learnt loads from Steve’s #salesmadesimple video series so I am delighted he is sharing this blog with us this week.

If you are serious about having a successful business today – It’s vital that you stand out from the crowd… (for the right reasons).

If you interact on-line or off-line with clients – you’re in sales.

If you speak or present to clients – you’re a speaker.

To increase sales and profits… You MUST be the best you can be at sales, marketing and speaking… Speaking let’s you massively leverage your time! It puts your marketing on legal steroids!

This means we must rid of death by PowerPoint presentations. We’ve all sat through them, how did it make you feel…? It’s not what you do is it…? Is it?

You must learn to speak and write with passion, enthusiasm and integrity, whatever your field. You must discover how to truly engage with people… And we pretty much all engage at an emotional level. Not a bullet point and graph level, not a dull monotone voice level.

Can you imagine going to a west end show, or watching you’re favourite drama, soap or documentary on TV – to watch the actor or presenter just reading from their notes…

Sales Lead Word Cloud Concept AngledIf you know your topic, your product or service – get rid if the notes and learn how to speak from the heart… It will transform you and your results. It makes you far more enjoyable to listen to and gets your message across far better too. I know that can sound scary…

I’ve seen “speakers” having to rely on loads of complicated slides to explain their message. What does that do for the audience? What does it tell you about their belief in their product or service?

I’ve even seen presenters having to hold and read from their laptops when technology failed and they couldn’t run the slide show. What? They don’t know their topic enough to just speak? It’s not that tough, and there are simple skills we can all master to become better speakers and presenters, 1-2-1, one to a boardroom or one to a ballroom.

If you want to be a professional speaker and get paid to travel the world and speak as I do, or simply want to improve your presentation skills for your day to day business – I’d love to help you.

To succeed you must discover the secrets that allow you to communicate effectively.

Consider these elements when you next present or PITCH

  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Tonality
  • Connection
  • Humour 

There are simple yet effective ways to structure your talk. When you learn certain simple techniques, you can deliver your message in 30 seconds, 10 minutes or a day long seminar… With confidence and ease. It all becomes fun, for all involved.

All these skills transfer into email, web copy etc too… wherever you need to communicate.

Steve is hosting an event on 9 December which is called Life’s a Pitch…. and then you buy (two).  If you would like more information about the event click here or send me a message, I plan to be at the event and so it would be great to share the day with you.


Steve Clarke Banner

Guest Blog: The importance of a good head shot!

Zelda de HollanderA professional headshot for your website doesn’t have to be overly expensive but as you will see it’s really important.  After seeing a couple of inappropriate head shots of Business Owners on Linkedin and websites, I asked this weeks Guest Blogger Zelda of Studio Shotz to explain why this photo is so important.

The importance of good head shots should not be underestimated; people nowadays would prefer to connect with a business that has a face. Take Apple & Steve Jobs as well as Virgin with Richard Branson. With the ever growing online presence surrounding even the smallest of companies, it’s now imperative to always be seen in the best possible light (excuse the pun!)

DSC_9279Head Shots should be seen as a vehicle to help show your brand, your personality & your professionalism within your company.  Having a professional head shot taken shows you care about the details of your business, it will look professional but friendly and creates a good first impression. Connections these days are rarely verbal, most people these days ‘meet’ your photo online before ever making contact with you. Let’s not forget sites such as LinkedIn where you as an individual are constantly representing your business.

KaronEllmer_01Head shots don’t just have to be a plain white background, passport style photo. Let’s face it, no one looks good on their passport photo! I’ve worked with a range of companies over the past 8 years creating head shots ideal for them, including directors, staff and single-handed operations. This can be including your business branding, whether that’s through colours in the background, the colours your wearing, uniforms or the environment you’re placed in. Head shots can be studio based or location based, including your offices or even out in your local area. We can even create a specific feeling behind your images, one that reflects your brand: fun, hardworking, corporate, creative.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more true, especially when running a business in this digital age. People are exposed to an average of 3,000 images a day, and only take 7 seconds to judge you & your business by your photograph.

Group Head ShotsStudio Shotz offers a variety of different head shots, ranging from actors head shots through to personal head shots for social media websites as well as business portraiture to show your employees and your business in its best light.

Head Shots are ideal for actors, performers, the self-employed and all business people that need a great looking photograph. Ideal for your own business website and advertisement, as well as sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Studio Shotz provides Head shots for just £25, which includes up to 30 minutes in our studio and a high resolution digital image that is fully edited and airbrushed, in colour and black&white.  We also shoot ‘group’ headshots, and are more than happy to work on a bespoke basis.

10420179_672258042855107_3924468891222685376_nStudio Shotz Photography is a Boutique Photography Studio in Christchurch, Dorset. Run by Professional Photographer, Zelda de Hollander.  Visit the website at or on Facebook or email [email protected]


Guest Blog: The Ground Rules of Public Relations

This week, Your Executive Secretary are lucky enough to have Maria Parker-Harris guest blog for us on the subject of public relations.  Is now the time to admit to Maria, that I am one of those people who get a little scared of PR, even though in a previous life I was the Public Relations Officer for a Royal Navy Ship!

Public relations is often viewed as the dark art that makes new businesses very nervous. The truth is that with a good strategic plan and clear objectives, raising the profile of your business is not as hard as you may think. This blog post hopes to clear up some common misconceptions about PR with simple tips and some ideas that you can use as the foundation for your PR plan. This blog however will never be able to replace the skills and talent of a good PR, who is worth their weight in gold for media connections alone, but hopefully with this blog in your mind you will be empowered to explore adding PR to your business plan.

Chess and news conceptThere are some ground rules with PR and media relations that you should always remember:

  • Arguably the first rule is set clear objectives.
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What publications or promotional channels will best achieve your objectives?

Let’s use the example of an emerging UK blogger, who is targeting female readers between 35 and 50 with topical lifestyle content and is looking to monetise their online blog. There is a clear target audience in this example (females based in the UK aged between 35 and 50 with an interest in lifestyle content such as travel, events, music and fashion). There is a very important secondary target audience that is vital to achieving the objective – lifestyle brands that also appeal to the primary target market. In this example publications such as Elle or Good Housekeeping magazine would raise the blogger’s profile to both target audiences. However, that is a big ambition. Social media would be a good way to build profile such as Vlogs or Google+ circles (I will delve into social media advice in a future post). By building their profile on social media, the blogger would become more of a credible resource that would interest such highly targeted publications.

Social Media and PRA common misconception of PR is that a press release is the best or only way to sell your story to your chosen media sector. This is absolutely not the case, in fact global brand Coca Cola have vowed to eliminate press release by 2015. Reporters often look to social media to pick up stories that are popular with their readership, inviting the press to an event launching your brand or for an on-site interview can be much more effective. Consider how receptive you are to emailed newsletters, they often fail completely to capture your attention, where as an event that adds value by teaching you something new or demonstrating industry trends or expertise is likely to be far more successful. Be creative and break away from the traditional. Your business is providing something valuable and different, so why wouldn’t you want your promotional strategy to reflect that?

If a press release really is the best way for you to contact the media, then you absolutely must pass the ‘SO WHAT’ test. In a fully connected world, we often are guilty of business vanity, where we believe that our story is earth shattering and interesting to everyone, which sadly just isn’t the case.

  • Is your story newsworthy?
  • Why is it interesting to the publication and their readers?
  • How does it add value to the readership?
  • Is it new, led by an opinion leader, full of human interest, exclusive or unique?

If you have answered all of these questions positively, then make sure your press release is well written with the publication and their audience in mind, contains useful quotes, is accompanied by a picture with accurate credits and is easily accessible to the reporter. I would advise sending the press release in the body of an email rather than an attachment. Address the email to a named reporter that you have a relationship with and DO NOT chase! If your story is as good as you believe then they will contact you. Which brings to my final tip; always include clear contact information and be reliable. Deliver what you promise on time or being available for comment will make you a trusted source for the future.

Here are my top tips for simple PR:

  1. Ask yourself if local, national, international, online or trade press would best achieve your objectives.
  2. Be clear about your target audience and profile their media consumption, printed media is not always the best strategy.
  3. Ask yourself ‘SO WHAT’. Be honest and be tough, it will work in your favour in the long run.
  4. Use social media to test your story or build a buzz that can make you more credible for the publication.
  5. Always include contact information and be reliable.


MariaI hope this blog has helped and if in doubt always seek advice from a PR professional, we are really friendly and happy to help! You are welcome to contact me with any questions and as I don’t claim to be an all-knowing resource, I will point you in the right direction if I don’t know.

Maria Parker-Harris – MA Public Relations, MCIPR

Maria Parker-Harris manages the marketing, digital and PR for a retail marketing group in Dorset. Believing that creativity is key, Maria’s campaigns often challenge traditional approaches and have been featured in global and trade press. Maria also runs the charitable blog –


Maria has kindly offered to blog for Your Executive Secretary on a regular basis, so if there is something you would like to know more about then please email Amanda at [email protected] and we ask Maria if she can help.

The proof is in the reading … Guest Post by Helen Baggott for Your Executive Secretary

Even a Virtual Assistant needs the services of a Proof Reader and so Your Executive Secretary are really excited to have a Guest Blog Post from Helen Baggott, a Professional Writer and Proofreader. Keep reading to see Why “The Proof is in the Reading…..”.

To paraphrase Franklin, ‘nothing is certain but death, taxes and typos’. Where there are words, there will be woeful errors – and that’s why we need proofreaders.

New innovations of self-publishing may short-cut the route to a Kindle or bookshelf, but proofreading’s one stage that shouldn’t be missed.

Budding Browns will find their careers cut short by poor reviews and many learn the hard way that it’s almost easier to crack the Da Vinci Code than to proofread their own work.

Website and business content is no different. We become so familiar with our work that the eyes and brain deceive us into reciting, not reading.

No-one knows your product better than you do, so it’s your voice that will sell your service. But if you’re trying to sell an eye for detail, what message will that typo send out?

Often it’s the most familiar of phrases that will let you down – simply because your brain will barely acknowledge what the eye sees.

In the world of fiction, Tim can become Tom, a cashmere sweater will be stoked and pretty curtains are made from lice. A spellchecker will never find those errors – they’re all correctly spelt. The same applies with your business content – how can you polish your prose and project the perfect image?

If you’re trying to proofread your own work, set it aside – for as long as possible. Re-read it after a long break and read it aloud. Doing that will inject a new stage into the process and you’ll be surprised what the tongue trips over.

Some writers will openly break the grammar rules – they have a voice for their characters and that’s what’s important to them. The same can be true of business content – your product, your voice – but mangle syntax at your peril. And do keep it simple – don’t try and impress by using a thesaurus – you’ll either turn customers off or make them laugh (titter, guffaw, chuckle, giggle).

Squeezing too much content into a few sentences will back fire. Bullet points are far better than too long sections of text and will have more impact. Using different spellings (T-shirt, t-shirt, tee shirt, tee-shirt), hoping one will stick, is never a good idea. It smacks of indecision and incompetence. Using capitals to enforce Your Message is fine, but if you’re breaking the rules you must be consistent.

If you intend producing a series of content for your marketing strategy, create your own Style Guide – that way everyone in your team will know you sell T-shirts and not tee-shirts. Include preferred punctuation, perhaps where you might use italics or bold for impact etc. Just the process of creating that Guide will focus your mind and begin training your brain to check for more than just spelling mistakes.

And if all else fails? Hire a proofreader!

Guest Post from Helen Baggott (Proofreader and Author Services)
Guest Post from Helen Baggott (Proofreader and Author Services)

As well as working as a proofreader, Helen Baggott also writes for local magazines. She is currently working on a collection of biographies for publication in 2014. Helen accepts proofreading commissions from authors, publishers and businesses that need their website and business material polished.

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