Whether you are a PR pedant, pedagogue or purist, everyone seems to have an opinion on the proper use of the apostrophe. Of all the uses and misuses of it, the one that flicks my switch is the lack of it in a business' name. The problem often occurs when a business is named after the people or person who set it up.

My apologies to Charltons above, but it was the first image that Google offered me and is not meant to be detrimental. So often I'm driving and see, for instance, Jones Plumbing. If this is a company owned by one Jones, it would make the name possessive and require the addition of an apostrophe at the end. If the company were owned by more than one Jones it should of course be Joneses'. However, that would look difficult to the eye and not understood as being in common use.

That is where things come unstuck. There is a great article on Sentence First about the use of the apostrophe which highlights the fluent use of it in place and business names.


I applaud E.B Hill of Leeds for taking the time to get it perfectly right - see the above bus - I'd be interested in your thoughts and pet hates. 


Graham Paker is an award winning PR professional and inspirational speaker

I've been promoting the value of collaborative PR and marketing for some years because I know it works. It's a simple idea of two or more businesses getting together to mutually promote each other. Some years back I recommended this approach to a motor mechanic client, who hooked up with a florist I knew while attending a networking event I ran.

The garage began leaving bouquets of flowers in the cars of loyal customers following a service - the florist promoted the garage in the shop and by word of mouth. The relationship brought both increased business.


The above photo shows Ken Bonsall, lead singer of modern punk/folk band Ferocious Dog sporting a Nana's Kitchen t-shirt. You can see the photo on Nana's Kitchen's Facebook page and on a number of others connected to the business. Ken wears his t-shirt at gigs where people that attend music festival are likely to be - Nana's Kitchen serves food and runs bakery classes for kids at music festivals where Ferocious Dog are likely to be playing. Mutual brand recommendation is a powerful, easy to apply and relatively inexpensive form of PR and marketing. 

I've become quite fascinated by the way people use social media to potentially build relationships with people they do not know. In particular, I'm intrigued by the suggestion that social media is different to other forms of communication. We hear a lot about how it allows us to build personal relationships, to speak to anyone and everyone - and yet, at the same time, I read a lot of comments about ignorance taking place.

To get a better understanding of that I'm doing a quick experiment this week by monitoring the responses I get this on Twitter and Facebook. All week I will record all the Re-tweets, likes and shares I make in response to other people's posts. I will also be recording the responses I get from those posters, for instance, will those using the hash tag #journorequest let me know they appreciate my re-tweets or responses to their tweets or will they ignore the fact that someone has responded to them?

It should be interesting to see if people are using social media to make connections with others, or simply to broadcast their own messages.  

I'll never forget a conversation I had with Alastair Campbell, what seems now like many years ago on whether or not Gordon Brown was going to be the first PM to lose an election based on personality. Having been Tony Blair's head of communications on several successful campaigns he should have known a thing or two about promoting personality, but, he posited, the next election would be won on policies, not the persona of the future Prime Minister.

I still believe Alastair was very wrong, in fact I felt very sure at the time that he knew he was wrong and that Gordon would lose as much, if not more on personality than on policies. Ever since Saatchi and Saatchi began sculpting the public image of future PMs we have seen more and more focus on PR and personality than we have on effective policies in the UK. We are now at the point where, minority parties like UKIP, the Green Party and the SNP aside, the public has little taste nor time for politicians of the historically main parties. This is in part due to scandals that have impacted on them all and actions by individuals within various parties. It is also, to my mind, as much to do with the homogenising of politicians at the hands of media trainers and Communications Directors who put more emphasis on format over content. The image is now all that matters.  

Back in 2010 Gordon Brown stood to lose the election not because he as battling with a global economy in crisis, not because he was dealing with a war on terror or because he had made a hash of pensions. He was set to lose it because more people liked the "look" of David Cameron or Nick Clegg more than the steady at the wheel, no fuss former Chancellor. And now, as we sit on the verge of another general election, things look set to go full circle. I don't believe Cameron will lose the election on the back of his policies and performance over the last five years as much as he will due to the fact that the electorate no longer (if they ever really did) warm to her personality. He is being saved by the fact that Ed Miliband is seen as an even less palatable leader from a pretty picture point of view and Nick Clegg committed political suicide with his dumping of pledges on student loans etc.

The people gaining ground and votes are those that have or are stepping out of the shadow of the grey suited spin mandarins, the bland doctors of stick to saying nothing and being as non-committal as possible. The likes of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and even Pretender Princes like Russell Brand gain credence through exhibiting real personality - as odd and potentially distasteful as they may be. These rebels in search of applause connect with the electorate because they have a semblance of humanity about them, they are not some amorphous clone who offers neither public personality, principles nor policies that differ from the opposition.

We are now in the age of "pick me, I'm the least different" except the public is weary of being sold the same old dull package; if Ed or David want to be clear winners in May, they may just have to cast off the uniform suits they have clothed themselves in and start to look like human beings again - who knows, the public might actually appreciate a bit of real personality, one that they feel they could vote for, not against. 

If your business has not woken up to the smell of strong coffee in the digital consumer age and grabbed the opportunities it offers, then you may be missing the boat; that’s the message from Nicholas Lovell in The Curve.

The Curve

It’s been a while since I’ve read a business book as well crafted, illustrated, informative and easy to read as The Tipping Point, but this one certainly ranks alongside Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller in my opinion.

Lovell, a man who knows a thing or two about being successful in the digital business world, espouses his well backed up theory of The Curve – the concept that to in order win and keep customers in the economy of shrinking costs, rising value expectations and fluid customer bases, business owners need to focus on high value customers and not high volumes.  He also wants to free you from the tyranny of the physical to embrace all that the digital world of the web and social media can offer you.

For years businesses have tried giving things away as loss leaders, Lovell argues the case for giving more away (it’s so much easier in the Internet age of cheap duplication) to engage with customers, get them liking your products/services and ultimately spending as much as they like on what they value the most. He dares you to ask your customers what they like best and then let them pay what they want for it – you will be surprised at the results.

To some this may seem anathema to all they have done before, to those that see it as a radical opportunity to be grasped I suspect Lovell will tip his hat in admiration.

The book is illustrated with examples of how the Curve has worked in the music, gaming and leisure industries but to Lovell’s credit he extends the strategy to a host of others; and even provides template examples for everything from Premiership football to accountancy.

Lovell writes in a welcomed refreshing style with candour and humour, something you don’t find too often. This is truly reflective book written for its time – read it now or miss the boat.