Public relations – the holistic process. One topical example, Donald Trump

I’ve worked for a PR company in my long and chequered career  and they had a great definition  posted up on the wall, wish I could remember exactly how it went, maybe someone can remind me? It was based on a first date

He tells her ‘I’m the best dancer / cook / lover / (pick one) you’ll ever meet’ – that’s advertising

He tells her ‘ask that woman over there, she’ll tell you I’m the best dancer / cook / lover you’ll ever meet’ – that’s marketing

She says to him ‘I hear you’re a wonderful dancer / cook / lover ‘ – that’s public relations.

We of course insisted PR was the best way to package anything.

It can go either way, once the word is out there it takes on a life of its own. Donald Trump, then and now, is a wonderfully topical example. Three years ago if anyone had said ‘Donald Trump’ you’d picture that bizarre hair, the hectoring thuggish image, oh yeah I heard of him, Ivana Trump’s ex? Today, whether you’re a supporter or bug-eyed that he has supporters, you know the guy better than you know your neighbours.  Power of publicity.

Right now I’ve got three areas of my life that need work. Dating, looking for a new job as redundancy is happening early next year, and selling books.

Dating, the advertising part is setting up your website profile, sure, but marketing?  It’s an area where you don’t really want to promote the fact you date a lot, that doesn’t imply permanence and that hand-in-hand walk into the sunset!  And frankly, double standard is still double standard, is it really good PR if a man says hey, I hear you’re hot in the sack? So the trick would be to find a website with a public forum, set up a good profile without over-selling, make engaging comments on the public forum, and build up exactly the right image so that others find you fascinating and queue up to date you. What could possibly be easier?

roll eyes

Job-hunting isn’t something I do very often and I suspect I am both very good and very bad at it. My ad, the old faithful CV, is good. My record is good, and my verbal references are great – I rarely go for an interview without being offered the job but, here’s the crunch, I never get offered top salary. Ever.  That needs salesmanship or amazing PR and I am rubbish at selling.

doh

Take selling books, oh, I know the process. Putting link after link on social media and trying to word them exactly right to hit that elusive demographic, the reader who clicks and buys, is the learning curve.

Marketing, that even more elusive demographic, the reader who reviews, who is prepared to put on record that they (a) bought the book (b) enjoyed it and (c) will buy more  – oh how we love them. That gets abused, too, especially by the professional publishers, within minutes of a book going on sale several hundred, or thousand, readers (numbers depending on budget) rush to record it is the Very Best Book they ever read ever EVER.

PR is the reader who tells friends about the book they enjoyed. The priceless word-of-mouth  recommendation. Dream world, that friend tells friends, conversation starts and spreads like wildfire.

daydream

I did write a how-to book about dating as a mature single. Perfect world, it could sort out the employment and increase sales of my other books as a by-product. Any PR gurus out there – call me? And oh yes I do realize putting Donald Trump in the headline was an odd attempt at a demographic. Politics aside, though, he’s a type of older man us autumn roses would come across and seriously, picture him without the billions, would you date him? Should you?

help

mr-will-do-nicely

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Don’t accept the first offer, haggle. Apparently. Does that cover first dates as well?

I have been offered job relocation to a much more expensive part of the UK, but it wasn’t a very good salary offer, so I said no. The offer was instantly pushed up to around 25%  more than my existing salary.

Hang on – if you want me, why make a mediocre offer to start?  I said I would think about it but all I can think is hmm, should I refuse again and see if it goes higher? Push my luck?

As it happens, my car insurance just came due. 9 years no-claim bonus, 16 years with the same insurer, £400. In the same post I got a letter from Saga offering car insurance starting from £109 a year. So of course I got an on-line quote. Like for like, plus lower excess than my current insurer, plus a couple of handy extras, the quote came in at £258.

I rang my current insurers to say I wouldn’t be renewing and they instantly dropped my £400 renewal cost down to just over £300. Pass.  But I did ask why, with 16 years loyalty, I didn’t get the best possible offer to start with?

Like why, with my existing proven track record with my current employers, who do want me to relocate, I didn’t get the best possible offer to start with?

How far does this haggling thing go, anyway? Has it spilled over into all sides of our lives?

I’m a mature single on a dating website (write books about it and all) but have I missed a trick here? When someone suggests a first meet over a pub lunch somewhere, should I be responding ‘not unless you send a taxi and make it a proper lunch at the Ritz Grill with you picking up the tab’ just to start the negotiations?

I looked on Amazon – with over ten million titles available, I reckoned there’d be at least one book on the subject. There was one on how to haggle to save money on everything. It was quite expensive – I emailed the author a counter-offer.

But there was no book I could see on haggling for the BIG things.

  • Income.
  • Politics afloat on a sea of money but offering us crappy choices.
  • Lots on religion but nothing comparative, you know, to compete for our patronage and donations.
  • The start of love has millions of books, but none on haggling up front. Once love is launched, there’s some financial advice but most books covering finance are reserved for the end of love, the really expensive bit. May the best haggler win.

It seems that for the really big things  we either have no choices at all, or need iron nerve and bluff.

That’s seriously worrying because my how-to book on successfully meeting mature single men is already on pre-order and if I missed an entire haggle culture, it’s not going to be as seriously useful as I thought it was.

sigh


mr-will-do-nicely

Are you a glowing autumn rose? How-To meet a Mr Will-Do-Nicely … coming soon.

A couple of the reviews on Rainbow, while friendly enough, remarked they had bought the book thinking it was a guide to flourishing as a mature single. Well, in a way it was, the men (and women) Dorothy came across were exaggerated for fictional purposes, but they are distinctive types to be found on every website for mature singles.  A small cross-section in a very large field, you could say.

I’ve written blogs about the types, and I certainly had plenty of material. Write another novella, pulling in more types, and more advice? Or do a how-to book?

I went with the how-to. Well, I went with two. There’s one coming out On Meeting Mr Will-Do-Nicely, and there are times you’d think I was trying to keep all the single mature men to myself, it is so crammed with cautionary tales. I’m not, honestly! The fact remains that most of them pass from hand to hand like hot potatoes (leaving burned fingers in their wake) because eligible men in their fifties and sixties, especially the ones who have been single for a while, are a whole new ballgame.

So why even bother, risk being hurt, heartbroken, scammed, poorer but wiser?  Because we are gorgeous, and still fizzing with life and adventure, and forewarned is forearmed. Go have fun. Do no harm.

As I wrote Mr Will-Do-Nicely I kept adding bits of advice I’d been given, or discovered for myself, which have nothing to do with dating and everything to do with making the best of the totally unexpected surge of energy and sunshine suddenly lighting up life and turning us into autumn roses.  It’s an odd reality that women in their late forties, even early fifties, menopausal and irritable and mourning the loss of fertility, are the most resentful of our Indian summer. You’re how old? You cannot be feeling healthier, fitter, more interested in sex and life generally, than we are, we feel old, you are old!

Ooooh, ffssssssssst.  Whether they like or not (well, they don’t) you can feel better than them. You do. They’ll find out, if they can shake that attitude. Sometime after the menopause the rush of life comes roaring back, for at least a while, and it is wonderful. It is so easy to waste it, with the wrong mind-set. Eventually I’d added so many notes about that it was diluting the singles book. So I moved them to another, On Perfecting The Indian Summer.

Am I an expert? No. Qualified to give advice? Only by experience. These aren’t books that order you about, lay down the law, they are How-To books based on reality.  I’m in my late fifties, I didn’t expect the Indian summer myself, and I did waste the start of it. I briefly joined a mature singles website to research one of my whodunits (Five Six Pick Up Sticks) and later I joined another for Nine Ten Begin Again so I could ask some fairly direct questions, and eventually I wrote A Second Rainbow. I’ve had a lot of fun, in the name of research, along the way. As for the Indian summer itself, I’ve met many women enjoying the sunshine, including my own half-sisters over a decade ahead of me in age, and they’ve all been generous with sharing advice. I played with the subject, in Eleven Twelve, where I called it the gloaming, and that put me in touch with more autumn roses. There are a lot of us quietly out there.

It will be interesting to see how the books do but if a single reader, just one, enjoys herself more as a result of reading either, they did their job.

Out sooooooooooooooon

We should just appreciate ‘heart-breakers’ differently –

I’ve met one or two men in my life who should be made national treasures,  because they make a woman feel so good about herself.  We do perhaps need to change our thinking, make an exception in their cases?  We know we don’t get to keep them but we should instead appreciate the time we get, rather than resentful when they move on.

I’m not even talking about affairs here, I hope every woman reading this has spent at least one evening with a man who was admiring, charming, and fascinated by her. You should bounce away walking on air … but the average woman either eyes him with deepest distrust or, worse, instantly thinks WANT! MINE! and tries to corner him, chain him down, until he bolts for cover and then she’s devastated and we say oh you poor thing, what a swine.

So when I rule the world (which I hope will be fairly soon) I will make it a rule that we identify the true charmers, re-educate women to enjoy them for what they can offer, and not resent them for what they can’t offer  … because they are LOVELY.

Any solid gold charmer wanting to be pre-approved, feel free to get in touch.  grin

 

teddybear

Three cheers for sensible! Hip-hip-no way

If you’ve read my blogs, I talk a lot about singles, the second-time round variety. Now there’s a book on its way.

Dorothy is signed up on a singles website, the Yellow Brick Road Singles, by her forceful daughter when her marriage suddenly goes phut. The first bloke she meets has the profile name Scarecrowe . . . oh, have you spotted a pattern yet?

laugh Simon Crowe, Tim Mann, Leo, and just in case the point wasn’t already hammered home enough, the book is titled A Second Rainbow. It’s not a copy of L Frank Baum’s book, or an adult version, that’s more of a sub theme. Later on in the book the women start appearing, which required a bit of fudging because The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has only one surviving wicked witch. Instead I collectively call them the harpies. Artistic licence, okay?

Getting the book title was easy. A writer name, not so much. I didn’t want to mislead my EJ Lamprey regulars, some of whom would love it, but some would be shocked. I wanted a name that made it clear this wasn’t a gently humorous whodunit and I learned with Eleven Twelve that splashing warnings in the title, the blurb, and the first page of the book, is simply not enough. Some readers were still taken aback to find they had been misled into buying a genre-crossing Halloween romp, I felt terrible for those who felt cheated. I had tried! (I know. I’m very trying)

Friends threw themselves enthusiastically into the challenge of coming up with an alternative name, and by far the best was Rogers-Briskly. I loved it, but I wasn’t sure the book was raunchy enough for a wonderful name like that. Still, I can resist anything except temptation. Clarissa Rodgers-Briskleigh is the youngest and newest writer in my small stable.

Writing a book about mature singles romping and skipping like lambs isn’t what you’d call a sensible move. As one of my (younger) beta readers said rather sternly, ‘Biff, make all the characters in their twenties and thirties, put the pedal to the metal in the sexy scenes, and this will blow like a geyser.’

uh oh

Maybe. More likely not. There are a lot of those books already out there, and anyway that wasn’t the point. I was enchanted to find out there is a second rainbow, an Indian summer, in life. Clouds start gathering when you’re speeding towards forty, right? Mortgages, career pressures, teenage children, life begins here? What a crock. Those clouds keep building up for the next ten, fifteen, years – and suddenly they clear. The sunshine may be the late summer variety, warm and mellow, rather than blazing brightly overhead, but there’s plenty of it.

I’m on a mission to get contemporaries to realize that, because I wasted a couple of years wondering why I suddenly felt so good without doing anything about it. I’m in no way saying dump the current spouse and rush to the singles websites, if anything the book is a warning as much as a guide! But this is a great age and stage, late middle life.

Celebrate it with your partner, and if you don’t have one, go find one. Read the book first, though. It’s something of a handbook, in its own way. The characters are staying the age I want them to be – your age, too, if you’re my target reader, somewhere between forty-something and too old to care any more. And the sex stays this side of pornography, and isn’t the focus of Dorothy’s story. The main focus is the second timers, the mature singles getting out there and grabbing life in both hands and twisting out every last ounce.  This won’t be a best-seller. But it is an eye-opener.

The countdown starts now. I’m setting the timer tonight. In less than a week you’ll be able to pre-order at a special 48 hour launch price, but don’t worry, I won’t let you forget. roll eyes There will be blogs. Or you could really play it safe and join my mailing list.

Click on subscribe, top right. You can’t miss it.

Nick mountain mist

I give up. I will never understand men

I don’t understand men, and where in blazes is the handbook? How can we have evolved alongside each other for hundreds of thousands of years and not have a CLUE? I don’t even understand my male friends any more.

My brother was full of advice. “Always tell the truth, say what’s on your mind, and tell a man what you want, we’re not psychic.” Yeah, THAT worked. We fell out a few years back! Without him there to translate men to me I gave them a wide berth for some years. That all changed in 2014 through a series of events and by the time 2015 crawled out its nappy I was with a man who was so violently, passionately and intensely in love it was frankly unnerving. Because I don’t understand men at all I thought he was in love with me  but turned out he was violently, passionately and intensely in love with the pedestal I hadn’t even realized I was on and one day I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands.

In fairness, it’s been raining men since then. I could, and this was something of a shock, be having a lively sex-life with all the trimmings and a choice of partners, why did no-one ever tell me I could be having more fun in my fifties than in my thirties? I wouldn’t have wasted a couple of years wondering if it was time to learn to knit, or order a gross of cats. The single baby-boomers are out there in force in their thousands, casting around for women to make a fuss over, and I’ve had men from mid-forties to mid-sixties trying their spiels on me, with varying degrees of success.

smitten Huge fun. I seem to be a magnet for weird, though. Fortunately also a magnet for the talkative, which has been good research for the novel I’ve been writing, on just how different it is to re-enter the dating game at a mature age. I’m a cynical old broad but my heroine is one of those nice submissive ‘I leave everything up to my husband‘ women who suddenly loses her husband to a determined younger woman and naively drifts into the world of the second-timers. The more research I did on her behalf, the more dodgy stories I heard and the stranger men I met! At this rate I’ll never finish the book and it will be longer than War and Peace instead of a light-hearted bit of froth to read on the way to exciting places and / or encounters. It tries to cover the commoner types of older single men, in a tongue-in-cheek way, as Dorothy bumps and drifts for one complication to the next, and I’d very much appreciate it if more and more types wouldn’t keep popping out of the workwork. Or if the ones I’d already classified didn’t become mystifying in completely new ways. Then there’s the latest Lawns book which has been stubbornly stuck at the written-but-I’m-not-happy-with-it stage for months.

Nothing for it but to officially hand in my lipstick, give up on this social life stuff, finish the books, and then see what else is out there. So if you spot me wasting time chatting on social media, just wag a finger at me and point me back at this blog. Elegsabiff, you should remind me, you have things to do. Ends to tie up, first.

Ta.

But I’m not learning to knit. That’s a definite. There is way too much going on out there.

Dear Diary

Remember when you wrote all your private stuff in a diary, and got mad when people read it?

Nowadays we write it all down in a blog and get mad when people don’t.

That’s not my own quip, by the way, I saw it somewhere. Probably on Facebook, or Twitter. I used to be such a private person, but there’s something about the semi-anonymity of social media, and the flood of breast-baring going on all round, that is very seductive. Add to that I had a growing family of books to promote, and suddenly I was plunging in up to my neck, hectically accepting cyber-friends in every direction, and publicly sharing things I would have hesitated to mention to a shrink. Whoops.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining and have enjoyed most of it very much. I’m about to send a book off for final editing, though, and hyper-ventilating a little about it, it is decidedly more raunchy than the Lawns series. It was when I realized I was seriously fretting about what name to use – stick with EJ Lamprey? Try the more general-purpose Joanna Lamprey, which is proving the kiss of death for the two books flattened under its weight? that I realized how very much I have changed. Three years I simply couldn’t have written such a book, I had absolutely no idea what mature singles got up to. Every day is still a school day, I ‘meet’ strange people every day and because I listen, fascinated, have heard stories far too strange to write down. No-one would believe them. I toyed with the idea of using the suggested pen-name Clarissa Rodgers-Briskly, which I thought was nicely tongue-in-cheek, then reluctantly cut most of one particularly risque chapter when nearly all the beta-readers focused purely on that one in their feedback. Too out of balance with the rest of the book, obviously. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what my editor makes of it.

Dear diary, I do hope no-one ever reads this.  uh oh