The Shortest Month, Busy Again

Better busy than bored, I always say – no really, I say this all the time. Ask anyone. And somehow, February, short though it is always manages to be super busy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have time for a quick update from the Modern Parlance media landscape and that’s what I have on my to do list for today.

On the Banburian, I’ve got the most recent editions of ‘Jones on Food and Travel‘ for your listening pleasure. What is it, you ask? A travel and food show hosted by photographer and travel writer Peter Jones who was kind enough to invite me to do a weekly spot called Deborah Dishes on Food. I’ve talked Peach Melba, food worth traveling for, national dishes and wacky food festivals. Also – I get to be a food taster every other week. We’ve tried everything from cheese to Caribbean food, fish and chips to pork pies. And chocolate. My goodness, the chocolate.

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Busy as a Summer Bee

Time for a “Summer is Almost Over” update about what has been happening across the Modern Parlance Landscape:

FOOD FAIR: On Fabulous Foodie, you’ll find What I Learned at Banbury Food Fair 2016 (Aug 22). The Banbury Town Fair has once again come and gone. As always, there were samples galore to try. We’ve learned over the years that once we’ve nibbled your way through the first batch of booths, had lunch and then nibbled and snacked our way through the rest – the idea of dinner often never occurs to us. But it’s not all about actually eating. It’s also about chatting with people about the food they have brought, prepped, turned into art or just enjoy. It’s an incredibly social occasion and with over 100 vendors, a day full of cooking demos and foodie’s everywhere – I always learn a lot.

Anita Chipalkatty (aka HobbyCooks) explains the ins and outs of making jalfrezi.

Not to be left out, The Banburian has its share of Food Fair action as well. We always enjoy the Food Fair (the samples, the smells, the samples and the new products to discover. Did I mention samples?) but this year was particularly interesting since we got some behind the scenes time at the demos as well. This led to not only having quite a good view of the demos but having a chance in between to chat with the chefs including Jean-Christophe Novelli and Anita Chipalkatty). Modern Parlance Photos was hard at work and you can see the results in Banbury Food Fair 2016 in Photos.

The ladies of Siam House get a selfie with Chef Novelli.

BARKING IN BANBURY: It’s not all food however. On both the Banburian website and Twitter feed, we’ve started featuring the #dogsofbanbury and so far, the results and feedback have far exceeded my expectations. Highlighting local canine cuties is just another way for me to put a “new face” on Banbury and show people that there are many facets to this often overlooked gem of a town.

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PHOTO GALLERIES: Speaking of a new way to look at Banburian, there was a new event added to the annual calendar this year – Street Trading Saturday (July 2). Not unsurprisingly, we were there to document to it. A more traditional event on the schedule was Armed Forces Day (June 25) and despite the rain, there was music marching and demonstrations for all.

TRAVELOGUE: From the Greater Gotham summer desk. What makes it a summer desk as opposed to a normal desk? The extra big glass of iced coffee. And the fact that it is covered with notes about my summer holiday.  This year’s summer holiday was – like last year – a trip to one of the many Eurocamp locations and also like last year, in France. Last year we went to La Pointe St. Gilles in Bénodet (a mid-sized site with lovely coastal location just a short stroll into an equally lovely town).  This year we ditched the coast and went a bit more inland to Domaine Des Ormes which was … well, it was big. Quite large, full of activities of all kinds and I must say extremely well laid out. Head on over to Summer Holiday @ Domaine Des Ormes to find out what I thought of the area, the facilities and the trip over.

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So a busy summer starts a transition to an equally busy autumn. There are a few more events to attend and document, a possible return to radio, ebooks underway and *fingers crossed* a complimentary white paper or two for download. Tune in for updates!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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”

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:

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  • 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?

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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.

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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”

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.

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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”

Dealing with Unwanted Gifts

We all know it’s the thought that counts but let’s face facts. It doesn’t always make sense to keep everyone’s ‘thoughtfulness.’ It may duplicate something you have, be utterly opposed to your taste or lifestyle. Or it may – the truth hurts – be utter crap. So, what do you do after you smile sweetly and say thank you?

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Continue reading “Dealing with Unwanted Gifts”

Considering the Culinary in Coventry

My most recent piece – 15 Things You Need To Eat In Coventry Right Now – is now live on Buzzfeed and boy was I ever hungry working on that. There’s some awesome stuff happening on the Coventry dining scene.

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I also noticed something while putting it together. The restaurants, cafes and coffee shops of Coventry are really doing right by diners with special diets. Obviously you’d expect a vegetarian or vegan restaurant to cater to their target demographics special diet. But what really struck me was so many mainstream restaurants – including quite a few that didn’t make it into my piece -had vegan menus, gluten-free menus, etc. Not just a couple of suitable items but full on menus with starters, entries and puddings. Maybe it’s happening more and more across the country but it’s the first time I’d come across so many in one town or city.

I’d definitely be up for exploring this further – seeing if it is, in fact, getting to be more common across the country. Or if it isn’t – what places seem to be leading the way (or riding the wave).