Full Steam Ahead Into Summer!

Summer has started with an absolute bustle of activity across the the Modern Parlance landscape.

The Banburian, a blog about Banbury and the surrounding areas, launched in May and has already gotten some amazing feedback. The latest posts include a visitor report and a picture gallery from the 2016 Banbury & District Show, a push for outstanding local pet rescue, BARKS whose felines need new sneeze guards and some tips for the Book Mad who might find themselves in Banbury. There’s also a Banburian twitter feed to keep us as up to date as possible with things you want to know, need to know and just may find interesting about the area.


Fabulous Foodie (the very first of the Modern Parlance Blogs) turned 10 years old on June 18. We have talked turkey, gotten baked – uh, I mean, baking – gone multi-media with podcasts  and launched a Fabulous Foodie Facebook group. What a ten years it has been. Can’t wait for the next ten!


Over on Greater Gotham, we’ve refocused on the travel and sight-seeing end of things and there are two new photo galleries – one from a day trip to Lichfield, UK and one featuring the varied and very personal messages you find on a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Both are the work and appear courtesy of Modern Parlance’s in-house photographer, dungeekin.


And that’s another exciting expansion, Modern Parlance Photos. We source images and photos for our projects from a number of well-respected and reputable sources but whenever and where ever possible, we like to use our own work. To that end, we have established a number of collections (food, architecture, travel, flora & fauna) and are adding more all the time. These images are suitable for use in ebooks, blogs, social media updates – any sort of digital publication – and we are happy to make them available for use by others upon agreement of terms. Visit our flickr page for an idea of the work we do and if you’re interested in a particular image or set of images, please contact us for details.


Finally, I invite you to visit and “like” the Modern Parlance Facebook page – you will find real time updates on what’s happening on the blogs, on the eBooks front and other Modern Parlance news as well as links I’ve found worth reading – and therefore worth recommending as well.








Social Media: On the Move, In the ‘Hood

As you have no doubt heard, social media is here to stay and the success of small businesses and independents is increasingly tied to making the most of it. Not only by posting and publishing but by ensuring you boost your social media ROI by being available to customers on the road and in the neighborhood.

Your Customers are Mobile. Are You?

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, then you’re more than likely losing out to your mobile friendly competition. In 2015, almost 40% of all website traffic came from a mobile device and that percentage is only going to increase.

mobile shop

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that a “mobile-friendly” site is something you only need for eCommerce. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ensuring your site, your brand and your information are easily accessible and clear via mobile devices is critical for service providers, restaurants, tourist destinations, special events, etc.

Location is Everything

Social media success isn’t about throwing everything you’ve got at the whole world and hoping someone nearby notices. You have to aim at the right audience and for independent shops and small businesses, a lot of that audience is in your physical neighborhood. While boosting your activity levels on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. – don’t neglect local groups on those platforms or sites such as Yelp or Foursquare.

She enjoys her job
She enjoys her job

Not only will this make you easier to find online (people often include a location in their search terms), but it means you have more chances to demonstrate your local know-how and to emphasis your neighborhood credentials. More and more people are looking for a chance to support their local economy. Give them a hand and let them know you’re there.

For other quick tips I’ve collected for small biz, check out


Short Month, Busy Month

Been a hugely busy month so far here at Modern Parlance. The blogs have had a bit of a redesign, the Modern Parlance website is crisp and working well and I’m awash in a world of words.  I’ve been outlining – actual outlining – for an upcoming food piece I’m rather excited about (more on that later). I can’t recall the last time I did an actual formal outline. I always make notes and I even do roughly outline-shaped things when organizing my thoughts but it’s been quite a while since I actually did one in this level of detail. It’s been … oddly, pleasing.

There is editing ongoing – interesting stuff about content marketing for a new remote client. I love a remote client. Go global or go home. Oh wait – I’m already home! The joy of working in my slippers never fades. There was a new restaurant review – this time we reviewed Castle at Edgehill, a place to please foodies and history buffs so you can imagine how much we enjoyed it.


But busy as I am (and better busy than bored), I’ve still had time to curl up with stories from across my relevant interests – food, content marketing, cats and Shakespeare. First up, food! Continue reading “Short Month, Busy Month”

Helping Felines Stay Flu-Free

B.A.R.K.S. (Banbury Animal Rescue & Kindness Service) is a small, local, self-funding, volunteer-run local charity dedicated to the rescue, care and re-homing of cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and small rodents.


We adopted our cat Harry (aka Mr Moustache) from them last year and we were blown away by the dedication, hard-work and care that is taken in all aspects of what they do.

THE SITUATION: BARKS does an amazing job, exceptionally impressive when you consider they don’t have much of a budget. But they have a particular challenge facing them at the moment – sneeze barriers. Continue reading “Helping Felines Stay Flu-Free”

All The World’s A Stage – #Shakespeare400

Lots of Shakespeare events happening at the Globe & around the globe. All the world’s a stage, indeed.

I’ll be putting together a page of relevant links but check out the hashtag #Shakespeare400 on Twitter for a ton of links to info, online exhibits, schedules of performances, etc. Here are a few quick highlights I’ve made a note of:


  • Shakespeare’s Globe is throwing themselves into the 1616-2016 of it all  with great abandon – as one would expect. They have a year long series of events and performances to mark the occasion.
  • For cinema lovers, there is a partnership between the British Film Institute and the British Council called “Shakespeare on Film” that takes 18 major film adaptations of Shakespeare on a tour of over 100 countries around the world. There will also be extesive screenings at BFI Southbank in London (fabulous to visit in any case)and in cinemas across the UK. If you like geographical context with your movie going, there is also film festival in Stratford-on-Avon.
  • If you are in the Chicago area, you are in luck! Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebrates everything Shakespeare with a yearlong arts festival in 2016.
  • If you feel like staying home and doing your Bardish celebrating in your PJs and slippers, there’s The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, Henry VI part 1 & 2 with Hugh Bonneville, Sophie Okonedo, Michael Gambon, Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch and is due to be broadcast on BBC Two in April.

Continue reading “All The World’s A Stage – #Shakespeare400”

Content Marketing Ideas for Small Biz

In Part 1 of my Small Biz Tips – Digital: A Big Boost for Small Biz – I discussed the way that small businesses and independent shops could use content marketing & social media to meet the challenges of today’s consumer-centric marketplace. My intention was to put content marketing in a context non-marketers could understand and to explain social media’s role in the content marketing landscape. I hope I succeeded.

It was, by necessity and design, very broad so by this time you’re probably wondering how can you make content marketing work for your business specifically?


We’ve discussed already how content marketing can take a lot of different forms:  buying or gift guides, news round ups, FAQs, articles, lists, infographics, videos, etc.  The form or forms you choose will depend on a number of things unique to your situation: time, resources, product or service offering, budget, skill set.

I’ve kept these ideas pretty broad and pretty basic to make the budget and skill set threshold as low as possible but don’t assume that being less costly or less complicated means these are less viable or useful. Digital really leveled the marketing playing field when it comes to cost and the tools available for creating and managing it require less technical skills than ever. Can you spend a lot of money on marketing get stuck in to the back end of building a website by hand? Sure, knock yourself out. The difference now is – you don’t have to.

So, now you know what content marketing is and what types of things fall under that umbrella – what happens next?

Next is the best part – you create your content! These are just ideas to inspire you, get you thinking and maybe show you that you have a lot more “content waiting to happen” around you then you think.  Continue reading “Content Marketing Ideas for Small Biz”

Digital: A Big Boost for Small Biz

With technology giving people unprecedented information and choice regarding products or services, customers are now firmly in a position of power in their relationship with retailers, service providers and brands.

This means you have to work harder than ever to meet – and wherever possible exceed – customer expectations. Digital marketing can help you meet this challenge. It boosts customer acquisition and loyalty; raises word of mouth and expands the relationship between shopper and seller.


When we say “digital marketing” – what are we talking about?

I’m so glad you asked. Welcome to Small Biz Tips (Part 1 of 2) where I intend to fully ignore buzzwords and jargon (much of it means very little anyway) and break this down into broad categories and terms everyone can understand.

Continue reading “Digital: A Big Boost for Small Biz”

Popping up on Podcasts

Now, I did say in “Hittin’ the Airwaves” that when I had the audio, I would share my appearance on the Banburyshire show from the other day. Thanks to Ian for getting me the file.

If you missed that post, here’s the situation – I was invited to be a guest on The Banburyshire Show on Puritans Radio. It’s a bit of music and a lot of chat about local businesses, highlights and issues. I was there to talk about two of my favourite things – Banbury and content marketing. For convenience, the segment is split into two sections. Part 1 is about Banbury and history. Part 2 is content marketing part of the segment.

Part 1: Chatting About Banbury (runs about 8 minutes)

Part 2: Talking Content (runs about 11 minutes)

And as long as we’re talking podcasting and radio, it’s worth mentioning that there are three Fabulous Foodie podcasts for your listening pleasure over on the Modern Parlance YouTube site.

  • What is a sandwich: I have my views on what makes a sandwich a sandwich but I am shot down by the legal facts, courtesy of my fellow foodies
  • Food fears and freezers: What foods do you fear eating? What have you not tried making because you’re worried it’ll all go wrong? And more frightening than all of that – what lurks in the dark corners of the freezer?
  • Bundt pans:  a very small but very important point about Bundt pans and ‘one use’ kitchenalia.

Searching Out Stock Photos

Does the cost of stock photography sometimes leave you reeling? Join the club! I’ve been shopping for and using stock photos for over 25 years and there are still times the price tag can leave me speechless.


Not surprising then that so many of us end up Googling phrases like “free stock photos” or “hi-res free photos.”  Of course then you get the results from that search and find yourself shocked at how bad some of the “free stock photo” offerings are. Well, maybe not so shocking if you subscribe to the “you get what you pay for” school of thought. But even taking that into account, some of them are breathtakingly bad.

Luckily there are increasingly good places to find high quality, absolutely free stock photos. I provide a few below. Some appreciate credit but do not require it. But all are free.

Continue reading “Searching Out Stock Photos”