Creating content that matches your business strategy

You’ve created a business strategy listing a summary of how you want to achieve the objectives and plans you have for your business. But it’s the content you create that will help you reach those goals – so how do you ensure you’re creating content that will actually help achieve them?

Who are you aiming content at?

The first step is to establish who you will be creating content for. You should already have most of this in place as your ideal client profile, but really laser in on your ideal clients, including: Continue reading “Creating content that matches your business strategy”

Content Marketing: what it is and why you need it

Content marketing is something all business needs, whether they’re a large corporation or a solo run small business working from home. But WHY do you need to use content marketing and what IS it exactly?

What is content marketing?

In a nutshell, content marketing is the creation and sharing of media and/or published content, in order to attract and gain new clients. To put it another way, it’s anything you’ve created, that you put out there consistently AND your clients see as valuable and/or relevant to them. Continue reading “Content Marketing: what it is and why you need it”

Benefits of attending a professional industry show

Professional industry shows give small business owners ample opportunities – whether you’re looking to just attend a show as a visitor or participate as an exhibitor.

Benefits of attending as an exhibitor

Targeted leads and qualified buyers – Visitors to a professional industry show are there for a reason – and often that’s to buy. They’re showing their interest by being there and therefore, it gives you a powerful platform to meet potential new customers. Continue reading “Benefits of attending a professional industry show”

Why should you work with a Virtual Assistant?

As a small business owner, you want to see your business grow – but you also know you can only work the hours you’re physically capable of working. Listen to the gurus and the solution is to stop trading your time for money and create recurring streams of income, but THAT takes time too – and is especially difficult when you’re ALREADY short of time!

In order for your business to expand and grow, you need to start looking at getting in help – and a VA can be both a smart financial investment AND a sanity-saver. So what are the real reasons WHY you should work with a Virtual Assistant? Continue reading “Why should you work with a Virtual Assistant?”

Guide to writing a press release

The aim of a press release is to raise awareness in your target audience – it’s to keep you (or the company you are writing the press release for) on their radar, by sharing relevant information about you in the media. However, writing a press release doesn’t have to be difficult… if you use these guidelines to help get you started. Continue reading “Guide to writing a press release”

Benefits of entering business awards

Business awards give both small and large businesses alike, the opportunity to recognise their achievements. Small businesses are the bedrock of our economy, and business awards are a great way of publicly acknowledging those that excel and stand out.

However business awards provide ample benefits to everyone who enter, regardless of whether they’re the eventual winners or not. Continue reading “Benefits of entering business awards”

Is marketing a dirty word for you…?

If you ask most entrepreneurs what they dislike doing in their business, the answers will invariably be ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’. Both words immediately have you thinking of touting your wares and trying to PUSH someone into a sale – an image that is full of pressure, awkwardness and has long made both words seem tarnished and dirty. Continue reading “Is marketing a dirty word for you…?”

Why Your Business Needs Core Values and Standards

All companies need a vision plan. This demonstrates where they are headed and how they plan to get there. It’s also a good idea to have a list of your company values and standards. This may sound like a document better suited to larger companies, but it’s just as essential for solo and small businesses too. Continue reading “Why Your Business Needs Core Values and Standards”

Runner Up – VA of the Year (Southern Region) – Sep 14

I am absolutely delighted to share with you that I was awarded Runner-Up in the VA of the Year Southern Region as part of the VA Conference and BeMyVA VA Awards.

The awards took place at Sandy Park, Exeter (more commonly known as Exeter Chiefs Rugby Ground) on 23 September 2014,

Award and Fizz!

2014 saw a new format for the VA industry awards with it being the first time there were Regional Awards for Virtual Assistants. The Regional Awards provided recognition for a VA’s work in their area – and the awards themselves are the first step towards the Grand Finals of the UK Awards that will be presented at the Annual VA Conference.

The VA of the Year Category – 
The ultimate recognition of excellence within the industry.  The judges were looking to find the champions of good practice for Virtual Assistants and they were particularly keen to assess the candidate’s passion for their business and their awareness of vision, purpose and values – and how that is applied to their successful business model.


To be part of this category VA’s needed to have been in business over 12 months on 31 January 2014 – I had been in business 13 months!

Being presented Runner Up of the Year AwardI am thrilled to have been recognised for my achievements in building a unique, innovative and effective Virtual Assistant Business supporting clients across many geographical areas and ultimately helping them to achieve their goals and dreams.

In the last couple of months, my business has grown – I now have a small team of Associates supporting clients and I also now a licensed trainer for the VA Coaching and Training Company – helping develop either those interested in joining the industry or new VAs grow their business. The next 12 months are going to be very exciting. Ensure you sign up to the newsletter (over on the right hand side of the screen) to keep up to date with what is going on.


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.