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.


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.


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!











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


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.

Hittin’ the Airwaves

So, I spent part of yesterday talking about two of my favourite things – Banbury and content marketing – when I appeared as 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.  Once the podscast is available, I’ll post a link.


I look a bit windblown – but winter decided to FINALLY arrive yesterday. The day I decide I’ll walk to the studio. Oy!  But that’s the beauty of radio – no one cares what your hair looks like. Until the host takes a picture (and thank you to Ian for the pic!) It’s one of the few pictures of myself that doesn’t make want to start photoshopping like crazy.

Oh well, enough about me. What about the show?

Continue reading “Hittin’ the Airwaves”

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.


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).

News Peruse: June 17, 2013

I’ve been quite the whirlwind of activity lately and that means I’ve fallen a tad behind on my reading from around the biz. Today is my catch up day and I though you all might like to tag along while I peruse the news of the last few days from the world of publishing, marketing and all points digital.

Marketers Are Not Publishing Enough Content – via the blogs at Harvard Business Review

The article asks in regards to the quality vs. quantity debate: “Why can’t brands create a lot of high quality content?” and my answer is they don’t want to pay for it. Some will, of course but many take the “how hard can it be” position and either DIY it or go for the lowest possible bidder. Result? Spotty at best – but then, you get what you pay for.

The Slow Media Manifesto – via Pando Daily article, The Opportunity for Slow Media

I found this whole idea fascinating. It touched on things I’d been noodling about (without wholly realizing I’d been noodling about them). With so many channels, so many people on those channels and all of them trying to GET THERE FIRST or POST THE MOST – media output from all this risks becoming just so much white noise. If we’re honest, for a lot of the intended audience, it’s already become just that. So what is the answer? You can’t put the toothpaste – or Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, etc – back in the tube. And no one is suggesting we do so. But there must be a way to have both the snippets, the bites, the fast and dirty along with the robust, the detailed, the involved. Like the social media version of long form journalism. The mechanism exists. They always have. It’s a question of training (or retraining) the audience who have come to accept and embrace the fast to the exclusion of the slow. Maybe it’s not a question of audience behavior and expectation. Those who want “slow media” or for that matter long form journalism will seek it out. So maybe it’s not about training an audience to want it (or retaining them to want it again) but about serving an audience who is already out there but undeserved. In which case, it’s about making it more widely available and therefore easier to find

Conjuring Cohesion and Purpose: How Ursula Nordstrom Cultivated Maurice Sendak’s Genius via the always interesting Brainpickings

“Yes, Moby Dick is great, but honestly don’t you see great gobs of it that could come out?” Yes, the great Ursula Nordstrom and I are on the same page there <g> But seriously, this is a wonderful letter – conversational, motivational and encouraging ALL at the same time. And, of course, beautifully written. No one writes letter like this anymore. Pity.

 The Librarian’s List – happily discovered on Pinterest

Described as “a list of our most beloved books, “bookish” quotes, and book lists created by librarians for librarians and the world” – this has kept me delightfully occupied for FAR too long lately. I have just started compiling my own recommended bookshelf on Pinterest so it was LOVELY to find this. Daunting yes as it is so much better curated and vastly bigger than mine. But oh so inspiring. A great use of Pinterest, too.

Bookstores! Not news per se but an item of interest. I am always on the lookout for new bookstores of all kinds (and being only a short train ride to Oxford, this quest is easier than ever. The town is full not only of students, bikes, tourists and history around every corner. It’s FULL of bookstores and I wanted to mention the two that have been tempting me (and terrifying my bookshelves) of late:

The Last Bookshop – what a sad name, right? But you don’t stay sad for long and here’s why. Every book in the place is £2. That’s right. EVERY BOOK. It’s a remainders shop but unlike most remainders shops (full of books that are remaindered because you couldn’t imagine anyone buying them in the first place no matter how discounted, this one stocks remainders and returns largely from literary and specialist publishers. Lots of classics, a nice selection of university press stuff, quality non-fiction. That said, there is also a nice sized children’s section with plenty of offerings from mainstream trade presses and a very interesting cookery books section that I will showing to my mother (the great cookbook collector) next time she is visiting.

Blackwells – which we have ALL heard of (at least we should have) and which I have been to many times since moving to the UK. I have yet to not discover something new and fabulous on every trip. Last time I spent more time than usual in the Posters and Art shop (located across the street from the main bookshop) and I have PLANS for the walls in every room of this house as a result.  But the Art and Poster shop isn’t just posters and postcards. They have a gorgeous and really impressive stock of art, photography and film titles as well. If I won the lottery, I can guarantee that a goodly portion of my first installment would be spent here. If you can’t get there right away, you can take a virtual tour of the main bookshop on Broad Street.

And now, back to your (and my) regularly over-scheduled day. Check back soon for more updates and another episode of “News Peruse.”

Check out the latest from Modern Parlance Press!


Dear Recruiter: The Saga Continues…

If you had told me when I started this that I was going to find so many mistakes and examples of shoddy writing across so wide a range of ads, that some would continue to appear over and over and over – I’d have called you crazy. Sure, not everyone is as fussy about clarity as I am. OK, some of my gripes are – possibly – subjective. And some of them I include because they have left an open door to a laugh. But the vast majority of them are just plain carelessness. My headache? Let me show it to you:


Now look – I know everyone makes typos now and again. I do myself. We all do. But what’s evident in a lot of these cases is that not only are they not proofreading, they aren’t even noticing when their spellcheck or other systems are telling them it’s wrong.  And so – on to “episode 4” of Dear Recruiter.

  • Dear Recruiter: Let us pass lightly over the fact that the word you want in your headline is ‘forefront’, not ‘fore front’ and go straight to a discussion about the first sentence of your ad. You know, the one:  “With the a constant flow of new clients wins the agency in urgent need of savvy executive to join the team and supports with the increased work load.”  There is almost nothing right about that sentence. Small children would have to WORK to produce a sentence so shoddy. I can only assume that your client never sees the ads you produce or – possibly even more depressing – doesn’t care how they appear.
  • Dear Recruiter: “Its a varied and exciting roll for someone with flair and love of social. Get in touch.” – where do I even begin?
  • Dear Recruiter: Phrases like “outstanding opportunity for a creative thought leader in the social space” make me want to start drinking before lunch.
  • Dear Prestigious Scientific Publisher: In regards to the Senior Editor position at your internationally renowned, flagship medical journal, you indicate that “meidcal knowledge really is a prerequisite” and “some editorial experience would be an asset.” Your standards are slipping but not as low as your spelling.
  • Dear Recruiter: I admit to being stymied. How does one “liaise with professional pears?” Is it different than liaising with amateur pears or – say – apples?
  • Dear Recruiter: I concede that “The world is evolving and the way brands comunicate online is changing” but I posit that some things – like the spelling of communicate – don’t change.
  • Dear Recruiter: Under location, you state: London or North America (United Kingdom). One of us is confused and I don’t think it’s me.
  • Dear Recruiter: I read “As a member of the ‘Engage’ team, you will ultimately report into the Head of Engage” and all I can think is that either English isn’t your first language or you work in an entire office of people unable to read. Or both.
  • Dear Company Redacted: You want someone “who was born digital” and that’s too bad. My mom isn’t hugely tech savvy so I was born the old fashioned way.
  • Dear Recruiter: You say you need someone with “an ability to generate compelling concepts as well breathtaking designs” but you also appear to need someone with the ability to proofread.
  • Dear Recruiter: The use of “brilliant” 7 times in 3 paragraphs of job description and requirements is 5 too many, if I am feeling generous, and 6 too many on days ending in a ‘y’
  • Dear Recruiter: Head of Execution? Are you SURE?
  • Dear Recruiter: You want a “Legendary Marketing Manager?” I confess stories of my exploits are told and retold but I don’t know if they have reached the lofty heights of LEGEND yet. Ask around …
  • Dear Recruiter: I am interested to know what a RONT END WEB DEVELOPER might be.
  • Dear Recruiter: No, I’m sorry. I won’t be applying for this position as you have used the word “synergies” & a girl must have her standards.
  • Dear Recruiter: I feel certain that my lack of direct industry experience is more than made up for by my passionate enthusiasm for the product. I would be HONORED to be the new Vodka Program Manager for Europe.
  • Dear HR: Head of News and Social Media for the Meteorological Office? Um… “It may rain. It may not. Chance of sun in morning. Or maybe afternoon.” There. How’s that?
  • Dear Recruiter: You appear to have the correct number of apostrophes in the job listing but none of them in the right place.
  • Dear Recruiter: Just FYI – your caplock key is stuck.
  • Dear Recruiter: Something is either a start-up or it is not. Well, OK, something might be growing out of the start up phase but that doesn’t make it “start-upish.”
  • Dear Recruiter: Congratulations! You are the first one I’ve seen to use the word “stonkingly” in an ad. Kudos!
  • Dear Recruiter: While the Internal Communications Management role you have with your “Central Government client” is probably very interesting, I feel it wouldn’t be in ANYONE’S best interest to put me within “rant’s reach” of Central Government.
  • Dear Recruiter: Many of your ads begin, “This a business with an exciting brand… ” IS! YOU FORGOT THE “IS!” You have been using this same freaking text in all your ads for months. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, FIX IT!
  • Dear Recruiter: I think you meant “board level interaction” not “bored level interaction.” But I don’t like to assume… care to clarify?
  • Dear Recruiter: I’d be a great ‘Head of Complaints.’ I’ve been complaining for YEARS; it’s almost second nature. Where do I sign? Oh… oh, I see. Never mind.
  • Dear Recruiter: You want someone to craft “strategic solutions across carious accounts” but until I know what carious accounts are, I am afraid I cannot help you.
  • Dear Recruiter: When you say you want someone with “Experience in manipulating media” – I presume you mean pictures or video, not journalists. Not that I object to manipulating journalists… I was just looking for clarification on this point.

Related Posts:

Dear Recruiter: The Write Stuff

I thought about calling this post, “Dear Recruiter: Proofing isn’t just for Bread Dough” but that seemed a bit long and a bit of a stretch just to get  a picture of twinkly-eyed Paul Hollywood on the screen.


What? Oh – sorry, US people. Paul Hollywood. See what I did there? Hi, Paul. *

Still, it’s not inaccurate to say that there’s a lot more proofing going on in bakeries than in recruitment offices and (to be fair ) HR departments. I call this series “Dear Recruiter” but that’s partially due to Twitter-related convenience – “recruiter” being a lot shorter than “company redacted” – and partially because that vast majority of ads I see are placed by recruitment agencies.

But regardless of who is responsible for the text, they are also responsible for the state of the text, the quality or lack thereof. So whether you are a recruiter (or as I suspect in some cases just happen to be sitting in the recruiter’s office because you needed a job) or an HR professional, I remind you that while it is important applicants check their CVs and cover letters to make a good first impression, you all are making an impression as well. And from this vantage point, it’s not always a good one.  And now, the latest round-up of Dear Recruiter.

  • Dear Geographically Challenged Recruiter: Just FYI – London and New London are SO not the same thing.
  • Dear Recruiter: Could you translate “oversee embedment of marketing staff within projects” from consultant speak to English, please? Thanks
  • Dear Recruiter: Waiting/Weighting. Learn the difference.
  • Dear {Company Redacted}: If you want people reading job boards to apply on your site, you need a place on your site for them to do so.
  • Dear Recruiter: 4 hyphens in 10 words is too many. Have some decaf and try again.
  • Dear Recruiter: I don’t have a “greatest sociel media achievement.” And frankly, neither does anyone else.
  • I see they are in need of a Supervisor for the Men’s Dressing Room at Wimbledon. Well, HELLLOOOOOOOOOO gentlemen. I’d be … oh, OH! Sorry,. I thought it was something else. Never mind.
  • Dear Recruiter: You want to “harness hero bloggers?” Harness? HERO bloggers? In case they try & leap tall buildings in a single bound?
  • Dear {Company Redacted} Should applicants for Associate Director of Merdia know what ‘merdia’ means or is that part of on the job training?
  • Dear Recruiter: I don’t know if I “want to rite for one of UK’s gastest growing sports wesbites” because it’s almost gibberish. PROOFREAD!
  • Dear Recruiter: Listing ‘defend the integrity of the copywriters’ as a key responsibility of the Content Manager begs the question – what the HELL is going on at that marketing agency?
  • Dear Recruiter: I’m intrigued by a position designed to “deliver up to date curses.” I’ve only delivered courses myself…
  • Dear {Company Redacted}, you want a “Digital Marketing Rockstar?’ Consider offering more than a “Digital Marketing Roadie” salary.
  • Dear Recruiter: You want as editor “able to undertake research using sources” – as opposed to using what? divining rods?
  • Dear Recruiter: When last I checked, Iowa was NOT in the UK. Please check your atlas & try again. I’m sure we’d have heard if it had moved.

And that, my friends, is this week’s installment of Dear Recruiter. If you missed Parts 1 (Dear Recruiter… All in the Details) and 2 (Son of Dear Recruiter, The Hunt Continues), they remain available for your job hunting entertainment.

* Nope, there’s no other reason for Paul being there than I wanted to see him.