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

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

Drop dead, darling

Want to know how to kill someone? Ask a single person who has been let down with a bump. Hell hath no fury like any single person scorned, it seems.

I’ve now written eight whodunits (the eighth currently out with beta readers) and although the bodycount isn’t high per book, I’m running out of ideas – I’ve strangled, knifed, shot, bludgeoned, and poisoned my characters, dropped them out of sight to starve, hired hitmen, and set deaths up to look like suicides, what next?  I idly put the question to my singles website, which has a very interactive blogging section, and uncovered an unexpected vein of serious bloodthirstiness. Seems quite a few mature singles have brooded on opportunities missed and the sweet taste of revenge.

Not sure if I can use any of the surprisingly inventive options offered, because they’d be either too easy or too hard to solve, but I know one thing, I won’t be quite so quick to rush off to the next meet-up. Yikes.

One or two wrote to me privately rather than publicly chatting on the blog about their activities. Bit difficult to say socially you buried your own mum-in-law in the garden and built a rockery over her, even if the writer swore she died of natural causes and oh yes was definitely dead, don’t need a doctor to confirm these things. His wife of the time had reckoned she could continue to collect her mum’s pension if mum just dropped out of sight . . .

Funny old world we live in. Truth really will always be stranger than fiction, and I begin to wonder if I have enough imagination for this line of work. A whole bunch of amateurs throwing themselves into the problem with gusto, maybe the next book should be a DIY manual!

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

Keeping a keeper. Easy, really.

Nice guys are actually very straightforward. They say so, in a bewildered way, usually when they can’t understand why the last relationship went wrong. They’re so easy, so ready to settle down. When they’re pressing fifty or accelerating towards sixty-something, you have to know things have gone wrong before. Why? He’s such a nice guy. Ask Clarissa. She wrote the book, literally (there, see it, in the margin?)

Actually I don’t want to mislead you. The men she meets aren’t keepers. Interesting, but not keepers. In fact we’re slipping off the topic a bit, which is nice guys, aka keepers, and how to keep them. They are easy. They are looking for nice women who will gently but firmly move in, take control, run their lives and keep them happy. It really couldn’t be much simpler.

Ha Ha Clip Art_thumb[1]

So, all a woman has to know, to get the lovely man of her dreams and her happy ever after, is

A – when to turn up. He has to be over the last one, and just wondering when the next one is going to arrive

B – what to look like. He might want you to gain just a little weight, or lose a little. Grow your hair, or cut it. Wear skirts at all times, or occasionally wear jeans. Always be immaculate, or always look as if you wouldn’t mind being a little mussed-up. The tricky part is sussing that out, because he will inevitably say he doesn’t mind, until you go too far the wrong way and he does.

C – Good food should happen effortlessly, so have a core list of recipes you can cook from memory from stuff that hangs around most pantries. Time enough to get exotic when he’s addicted enough to your repertoire to run your shopping errands. Do housework and cleaning while he sleeps. If he believes tidy happens just because you’re there, you’re in.

D – get the sex just right. I’m not saying Clarissa’s book could help here, but it couldn’t hurt. At least you’ll be braced for all sorts, especially if you’re a bit on the naive and inexperienced side yourself. Sometimes he’s in a quickie mood, and sometimes he wants to be adored and seduced, and sometimes he wants to do the seducing and coaxing himself. Sometimes he doesn’t want sex at all, just a quick cuddle. You need to know instinctively know which mood he’s in.

E – last point, or maybe the first point – some men want to hunt, some men want to be hunted, and some men just want you to turn up at the door (see A), looking right (see B)  and be easy to live with (see C and D).

See? Couldn’t be simpler.

Go find one.  Let us know how you got on.

wrinklie love

Setting expectations …

I’ve talked before about setting expectations when you’re meeting someone.  Launching a new book has a lot in common with a new relationship. The writer, for example, is expecting the reading world to fall on the book’s neck. At last, a fun novella about the issues facing the mature single woman who is re-entering the dating world after a long, sedate, and frankly slightly boring marriage!

The reader, on the other hand, has to be coaxed, titillated, seduced, into parting with hard-earned cash to try out a new book by a writer they never heard of.   And an unfamiliar subject – mature. What do mature singles know about sex, breathless excitement, expectations, heartbreak?

Actually, think about that. Long term singles know more than most readers (unless also mature, single and very active) will ever learn!

Not Dorothy, though.  Having spent most of her life being told what to do by the people in her life, she is possibly the most naïve woman you’ll meet, although you know the type – my husband takes care of all that sort of thing.  When her husband starts taking care of someone else, her daughter signs her up on the Yellow Brick Road singles website. Her first date is with a man who calls himself Scarecrowe …

Innocent hopefuls looking for the perfect mate, time-serving singles only interested in the next adventure, the easily-bored, the destructive, men and women who have avoided commitment for years and intend to continue avoiding it:  every character in A Second Rainbow is a common type, tweaked just a tiny bit further to fit the underlying Wizard of Oz thread, and the result is a romp with love, sex, betrayal, tears, determination and laughter.

Right now it’s on a pre-publication special price: put it this way, would you gamble the price of a cup of coffee?

You would? yayThen click on the image below to be taken to your closest Amazon.  The price goes up within 24 hours of launch,

Before you click on the cover, a couple of things you should know:

  • It is only available as an eBook at this stage
  • You’re ordering it for delivery to your reading device on April 14th
  • You can download an app from Amazon which will let you read Kindle books on your computer or phone
  • If you click on the cover image, it will take you to your closest friendly Amazon. It can only be ordered through Amazon

A second rainbow (4)

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

Virtual friends – part two –

On the costa del sol March 2016 A couple years ago I did a fairly breathless blog saying I was about to fly several thousand miles to meet someone I had been talking to on line for several months. I hadn’t a clue, I gushed, whether he was my long-lost twin brother, my best friend, or my future.

Well, none of the above, as it turns out laugh  although we’ve stayed friends, but on the strength of that meeting having been interesting, I flew off into the blue again last weekend. This time I was going to meet four strangers – two men and two women – who were not only strangers to me, but to each other. Age range, forty-something to the sunny side of sixty.  Why not? Safety in numbers, a gathering on the Costa del Sol, and two of them had, over the past year or so, made me cry with laughter with our brisk on-line banter. Three of them live there year round – one previously Australian, one a Londoner, one from Southern Africa – and the fourth was holidaying in the general area for a week from Ireland.

I say the general area, Spain is HUGE, but they would all be within an hour of each other. I suggested, rather enviously, that they meet up. Go ON, I urged. Tell the rest of us what you’re like. Okay, they said, you come too. Eek no, I said, I couldn’t – then I thought of all the advice I give on my blogs about getting out there. So I went. Taking, it must be said, some fairly Scottish weather with me. Coldest week they’ve had this winter!

SUCH fun. I’ll say right now that you have to pick your company, we’re talking mature single men and women here, they could have been gloomy and weeping into their second drink, we could certainly have exploded our virtual friendships into smithereens, I knew all of that. I’ve written loads of blogs on that, on what to expect. And yet – when would I get such a good chance again?

I knew the Irish woman would be worth meeting, whatever happened, even if she had needed elephants to carry her emotional baggage, (she didn’t) because she is both clever and howlingly funny. We’ve been giggling on the blogs for over a year and virtual is virtual, sure, but you cannot talk that much and hide the sort of person you are, over that long a time. I didn’t have a clue what she would look like – you don’t have to have a pic up, and she chooses not to be recognisable. Turns out, fantastic hair, fantastic skin, taller than me (I’m not used to that, men or women) and she annoyingly looks way nearer 30 than 50. I would have hated her if she hadn’t been such good company.

The other woman startled me by being absolutely tiny, I somehow expect Australian women to be strapping tanned Amazons with a surfboard tucked under one arm. I know, I know, but I worked for the company that marketed Fosters in the UK for many years. You get brainwashed. She’s a dynamo of energy, more fluent in Spanish now than in English after 30 years there, and herded us briskly around for the weekend like a tiny border collie working a herd of rather laid-back sheep.

I’d chatted on and off for a year on Skype with the oke from Southern Africa, so I was pretty sure what he would be like, and he was exactly as expected, another tick for using skype to talk to strangers, a very nice guy, and without his organizing we’d probably never have got the plan past wishful thinking into reality, despite all of Titch’s energy. One-time army men who now run their own businesses are good at organizing!

I’ve exchanged messages with the drily-witty Londoner for even longer, he’s even (unknowingly) featured once or twice giving advice in these chronicles, but he’s had the same pic up since I joined the website and we had no idea what to expect. Ten years older than he said? Five inches shorter? That’s pretty standard on singles websites, but it didn’t matter, this wasn’t a dating-type meetup. (He turned out to be exactly what it says on the box, that was a first!)

It really was fun. We ate a lot, drank gallons of coffee and a little alcohol, and talked and talked and talked. I didn’t get to bed before 3 am on a single night. At least twice before I set off I would have cancelled out of sheer nerves, but I was used to that from my first venture, we never met without me having a mini meltdown beforehand. Apart from anything else, any reader of this column knows I don’t much like flying.  grin However, carpe diem is one of my mottoes. If not now, when? is another.  Not to mention the less thrilling, if more prosaic, you aren’t getting any younger. So much for that one, I felt like a yearling all weekend. It was great.

Do it. Seize the day.

Ever researching on your behalf,

Elegsabiff  wave

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.

I never meant to be one of my characters

My book characters changed my life, and it was weird. I invented them, and they re-invented me.  I have no idea whether that has happened to anyone else, subconscious impulses pouring out through the fingers, but when I first wrote One Two it wasn’t called that, it certainly wasn’t for publishing, and the characters were much older: it was a book I wrote in memory of my mother, who had reluctantly moved to a retirement village (they’re for old people, she said crossly. She was eighty) and turned her life upside down.  She made new friends, flirted outrageously, took on a whole new life, and died just when things were getting really interesting. I coped with it by writing her into a book with a kind of generic best friend, a lovely Scottish flirt, and a gay man who shared her love of opera, and gave them a murder to solve because she loved whodunits. It may be unconventional therapy but it helped, she is embedded in amber, enjoying herself, telling her wicked stories, vital and vigorous forever.

It was the first time I had tried my hand at a whodunit and I found the plotting absolutely fascinating. A few years later it was still niggling at me and I finally rewrote One Two in the age group I thought I knew best – my own. The ‘generic best friend’ became the main character, the title cropped up and suggested the idea of a series, and the setting changed to Scotland, where I live, and which I love. I was on an elective career break at the time, and became addicted, no other word for it. For two years I lived at my desk, writing until three in the morning, dazed and enchanted, living what had been a part-time passion for decades.

Edge isn’t me. None of them are me, although they all come from me, and my traits are liberally scattered between the four friends, but as their lives grew more interesting, book after book, it dawned on me, oh so slowly, that I could be having a more interesting life too. Couldn’t I? The Indian summer dawned for them before it dawned for me, but I found I was changing.  I was so engrossed I kept forgetting to eat, and I also made myself exercise: always that fear the wind could change and I’d be locked into a seated position for good. One genuinely unexpected result was that from being nearly William’s size I shrank down to Vivian’s size, then further.  Vivian and William started a sedate fling, almost without me noticing. In Five Six Edge joined a dating website, as bait for a Police Scotland investigation. In Seven Eight she had a ‘thing’ with another resident. In Nine Ten the characters actually shocked me by taking over. The beta readers were okay with it, but I was nervous. I knew from the Five Six research that she was entirely in character but I now no longer knew as much about life as my own imaginary friends . . .

Well, any regular reader of my blogs knows I joined a singles website just to keep up.  By the time I wrote Thirteen Fourteen I was having a thing of my own. Fun, too. The sun was shining in my Indian summer, and life was extremely good.  It still is. The books have become a celebration of the gift of energy and vitality that is so utterly unexpected and catches so many of us off-balance.

Fifteen Sixteen is stuck in limbo, with real life interfering all too often. No matter. It will come. My pen ran dry altogether for six months, not helped by me running out of money and going back to full-time work, but recently took off with a vengeance, pouring out a comedy romance about an autumn rose who finds herself in the first wives club, joins a website, and meets the kind of bizarre people one does meet, especially the perennial singles who have dodged grown-up relationships for forty years and counting.

I’m still not even sure it will be published, and if it was, whatever name would I use?  EJ Lamprey writes whodunits about characters who have been emerging into their own sunshine, but that is very much in the background of the books (okay, less so in Nine Ten). Joanna Lamprey writes SF. Another name would be nuts!  Yet anyone who started reading me via Dorothy’s encounters once she joins the YellowBrickRoad website will have expectations that simply aren’t going to be met by the Grasshopper Lawns stories. Oh well, I’ll work it out.

Hi. How are you, anyway? It’s been ages.