POSTED ON Tuesday 7 , 2012

I ventured into London yesterday amid the mixed reports of “London deserted/London heaving” and found that it was slightly busier than usual but nothing that the Tube couldn’t handle.

Whilst there I saw several contingencies from different countries, strangely all hanging around Camden High Street and the markets there.  I assume that the bargains on this road were calling to them more than the excitement in Stratford.

Olympic fever has touch many of us quite unexpectedly.  For me, it started with the Torch arriving in our local town and continued when we were at the footie in Cardiff last week.  I’ve never seen a football stadium with quite as many women and kids so it clearly couldn’t be a regular league match – there was nowhere near enough bad language either.  There was certainly sufficient alcohol and quite a bit of very bad dancing from some women in the crowd but it was incredibly good natured and fantastic to be part of the event.

Team GB looked in form and won, but the big surprise for me was that the media villain-of-the-peace Suarez was a fantastic player.  He was clearly a cut above most players on the pitch.  It was interesting that quality is so clear in sport but not necessarily everywhere else.  At the Olympics, the best wins – it is that simple, but in business life mediocre people can drift along very well rewarded for many years (think banking and many other professions).

The same is true of beauty products, the shiny box and nice bottle doesn’t mean that these are the best performers, neither does price, whereas in football, the more expensive the player, the better they are.  So, why is performance rewarded in sport and not elsewhere in the world?  Something for me to trouble my tiny brain with late at night, methinks…

POSTED ON Monday 16 , 2012

We had a fantastic time this weekend at the French Ambassador’s Bastille Day event in his private residence at Kensington Palace Gardens. 

The incredible opulence of the surroundings was slightly mitigated by the damp underfoot but it was a beautiful event and the Ambassador made a very good speech.  Dave Clark from FDD was our client’s guest and he and his wife were wonderful company.

We all may have had more than one drink and it’s fascinating what you learn about people’s lives when you really get talking and the polite chit chat gives way to real talk.  Dave’s wife Eileen works as a teacher of Dyslexic children and as the mother of one it was great to hear what she really thinks and not the sanitised version of what teachers tell us about our son.  Likewise, Dave seems to have lived (just a little) and I can tell that future meets will bring out even better stories, but maybe not for publication…

POSTED ON Monday 18 , 2012

The Bombam Gorgeous Susie Bearne et moi – Susie on the right

Last week I took a group of 6 journalists to the Languedoc Roussillon region of France (Marseille and turn left rather than right to the Cote d’Azur) – there’s me on the left and the lovely Susie Bearne (freelance) on the right.  A couple of cultural difference occurred to me while we were there.

  • Time has far less relevance in this region.  It slips effortlessly away and no one seems too concerned.  
  • Lunch is not a sandwich on the run, but a proper 2-3 course effort where real care is taken to achieve local ingredients.  It’s to be savoured and thought through, rather than shoved down on the run.
  • Only the English can make tea
  • Only the English (and possibly the Irish) understand the concept of breakfast tea blend
  • Everything local in the region is preferable to either national or international, from the art that hangs in the hotels, to the ethos of their spas (using local staff, local products, local building materials etc).  Even if it’s not great, they are proud of their artisans.  I can’t remember the last time we celebrated a local painter or crafts person.
  • Cuttlefish is actually squid – who knew?
  • “Bombam” is French for “like” as in “Susie is so, like, gorgeous” so it becomes “Susie is so, bombam, gorgeous”
  • The most delicious cake in the world is choux pastry with sweet rose-flavoured cream inside – it was sublime.

 The only other conclusion I can come to is that having lost 2 stone it doesn’t look like I have in the photo, but perhaps I would look the size of a small hippo otherwise.  Not a single woman I know is happy with how she looks – to discuss next time.

POSTED ON Thursday 7 , 2012

Whilst it’s chucking it down in Blighty I’m preparing to run a press trip next week to the Languedoc Roussillon area of France.  Basically, it’s Marseilles and instead of looking right to the Cote d’Azur, you look left towards the Pyrenees.  My husband and I had our very first trip together there when we got together.  I can’t say it was an outrageous success.  It rained, there were scorpions in the roof of our apartment, my husband’s bike broke (I now realise he breaks everything) but we had a very memorable time.

This trip is looking at two five star spas and a variety of treatments that are new to the beauty scene.  The challenge I have is that two of the companies want to give my journalists facials and two facials in two days is one too many.  Everyone wants to showcase the best treatments they can and it’s my job to balance these desires against creating a quality trip that actually takes into account what journalists want.  In essence, this is the dilemma all PR’s have.  Clients want the maximum they can out of a single trip, but PR’s like us have to balance this against our on-going relationships with journalists which has an implied duty of care.  Care that journalists are not so tired at the end of the day that they are exhausted; care that they have time to respond to never-ending work e-mails so that they are not unduly stressed; care that the client is not taking the proverbial and ruining a PR’s relationship that has been built up over years.  Clients get to walk away, PR’s don’t, we have to mend, repair and dissipate any problems clients create.

The worst experience for me was when a client had given Cheryl Cole a product (this is years ago).  It was into five figures in terms of value and in return, Ms Cole had allegedly agreed to give an interview.  The client insisted on OK! or Hello and, through my persuasion, the lovely Marcia Moody at OK! agreed to run the interview with three questions on the product included.  Job done.

However, the client had not cleared it with Ms Cole for this title and it was found that she allegedly had some animosity towards OK! due to a previous shoot allegedly not going quite according to plan.  Two days before the shoot I had to call Ms Moody, explain the non-appearance of Ms Cole and eat enormous quantities of humble pie.  The client walked away as if nothing had happened.

These days, the management of the client/journalist relationship is the real key to a good PR.  Journalists are our contacts, our gold and clients can only have judicious access.  Balance is king.

POSTED ON Wednesday 23 , 2012

Back from Cannes!  Overall impression?  It is absolutely mad.  You may be given what looks like a schedule, you may think it’s a schedule, but actually, it’s a bit of paper with words & timings that have already changed from the moment someone pressed “print”.

If you go with the flow it’s fine.  The job always gets done in the end and I particularly enjoyed working with some fantastic professionals including Barbara Rdzanek our make up artist, Jojo Dye who works with Ealing Metro and Tim Cole from One Tone.  They made the trip fun.

Barbara and I were in charge of getting the Mary Kay products onto the stars and I think we achieved this admirably, if I do say so myself.  Laura Michelle Kelly’s eyes look great in the shot above and Mr Keating was not only a joy to work with but required very little Barbara assistance.  Slight bit of help for TV and that was it, but with HD screens these days, who wouldn’t and given what many male stars ask for before shows, we thought a bit of Mineral Powder exceptionally reasonable.

Laura was also lovely – how rare, two reasonable film stars on one gig – and gave a fantastic TV interview to me about her beauty regime and which products she likes (I’ll upload this in a week or so).

After the screening of Goddess, their movie, I dashed into the L’Oreal pop up nail bar in the Martinez hotel to have a look – like to know what the opposition are up to – and they’d made a great effort with very limited space.  My French not being fantastic I believe the manicurist said that it was mainly journalists and a few celebs coming through the door, so if you’re a journo down there get yourself along to the Martinez, she’s waiting for you!

POSTED ON Thursday 10 , 2012

Cannes Film Festival here we come!   Later this month, I’m off to Cannese where Mary Kay is sponsoring the Launch Party for Ronan Keating’s first ever film, The Goddess, which also stars the lovely Laura Michelle Kelly.

We’ve seen the trailer (we’re not allowed to see the whole thing until Cannes) and I have to say it looks fantastic- think cross between Mamma Mia and Muriel’s Wedding. 

More importantly, we’re working on the looks for Laura during the festival and we’re very excited about the colours and make up artist we’re going to be working with to create show stopping eyes for Laura – more of that later.  Key products we’re using are Mary Kay’s Lash Love (adored by many a make up artist as a great mascara) and their Cafe Au Lait lip gloss, but we like to keep you interested, so further news next week.

Ronan is great in the clips we’ve seen and it’s a lovely heartwarming film that everyone will enjoy – feel good factor when we most need it, although I think the Cannes sunshine might just work too.

POSTED ON Tuesday 6 , 2012

So, we’re off to Cosmoprof on Thursday and I’ll be posting from there so you can see my latest beauty finds.  My major crisis at present is what to wear?  I HAVE to wear flat shoes but nothing looks glamorous with flats.  Last year, I wore FitFlops and sneaked around the corner to change every time I had a meet.  This worked fine until people started meeting me in the aisles – hey ho.  Anyway, I have a few new tops courtesy of Cos and several meets that should be great fun – Rocky, George, Stacey I can’t wait!  

However, even more exciting for me is that Floris have invited me to have a personal fragrance session with their perfumer in April.  I am pathetically excited about this, mostly, because it will be about me rather than a fragrance for someone else, but also because it is absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime treat.  Thank you Floris, I shall adore you until my dying day and not just because you do make the most thought through candles on the market – gold cover, cork mat, fabulous fragrance etc.

Heads up, I am mainly looking for creams that dissolve wrinkles.  There were several on the market last year including -417 so I’ll see how these have evolved this year.  I want excitement, newness and innovation in beauty and I don’t see why you or I should be denied…watch this space…

First Post

POSTED ON Monday 30 , 2012

So here we are with our first blog on the new Alchemy Blog site.

Busy week this week with the In Style Beauty Awards tomorrow night but my lips are sealed as to which of my clients has won!  It’s sure to be lovely as the In Style beauty team do a fantastic job every year and it’s a great do.  Last year Leighton Denny was showcasing his new bod which was lighter by 10lbs and he looked great – still does, so well done him.

On Thursday, my good friend Richard Brooks is running the new Agent Provocateur launch at the Rose Club in London so we’re all looking forward to that and seeing the new fragrance.  He’s a great PR so bound to be a good event.

I’m off to Spring Fair at the weekend at the NEC to meet some international prospective clients – it saves me travelling thousands of miles and I get to see some great faces.  Looking forward to seeing lots of my clients as well and persuading some of our brokerage clients to do a deal!

Well, that’s all for now so I’ll update you tomorrow night with the winners of the event and you can read all about it in the March issue of In Style, out tomorrow!