NAKED PR GUIDE TO ITALY – SORRENTO, AMAFI COAST, & CAPRI – Italy is colourful and passionate and wonderful. It has fresh sharp lemons and the juiciest oranges and brightest flowers. It has narrow coastal roads that have been nicknamed Mamma M…
I’ve been three times to Kew Garden; once on a Saturday in June, once to a outdoor cinema thingy in July and last week in May. You come into Kew Garden station which is about ten minutes walk to the main gates. The entry price is around £16 and you can buy online to avoid the queues.
My top tip is to avoid the obvious cafe near the gates and go around to one of the other cafes either the Pavillion or the Orangery. They have lovely sandwiches, salads and hot food plus tea, coffee and boozy drinks if you fancy it. It’s taken me a couple of trips to get around the whole thing now (it’s a full day experience whichever way you slice it) and I have to say the best bits are the rose gardens (in full bloom in June) and the gardens to the right of the main entrances where the greenhouses are! Make sure you go to the Palm House, Waterlilly House and Princess of Wales Conservatory. If you have time, there are bluebell woods and beautiful flower filled paths (Rhododendron Dell lovely in May) to walk around. There’s a fab bit called Kew on a Plate too which was featured on the BBC featuring vegetable gardens.
I’m going to shout out for the marvellous gardens behind this palace which could get overlooked by the sheer magnitude of Kew Gardens. This quaint palace is super pretty up front but wait until you scurry around to the back and take a look at the perfectly formed gardens. There’s lavender all around giving the most delicate fragrance, a decorative well stands tall in the middle, there’s white statues of gods standing majestically at the end, there’s a birdcage type thing on the hill for fun Instagram photos, there’s an archway filled with Laburnum flowers (blooming in May), it has luscious leafy walkways, there’s a little fountain and well placed benches to sit and take in the view plus there’s a cute little garden with vegetables and herbs. And I haven’t even been in the house – imagine how excited I’d be then?! You can visit the gardens with your normal Kew Gardens entry and this special place is one of my faves, it reminds me a little of gardens I’ve seen in Versailles.
My second attempted visit to The Hive at Kew Gardens is on a blisteringly hot summers day – as opposed to the first where the electrically charged skies meant that we were unable to go anywhere near it as thunder and lightning are considered a tad on the dangerous side for a metal structure. So there’s my first tip, go in fairly good weather if you can and my second tip is to go at the beginning or end of day to do your best to avoid the crowds. The Hive is an impressive, curious structure from the outside, visible from all sides and protected by wild flower bankings. The silver metal, which in sunlight almost seems to have a rose gold hue, feels imposing but somehow still delicate with slender pieces holding together like a elaborate and arty giant Jenga and accented with glowing, flickering bulbs. If you enter the structure from the bottom you can look up to the people above visible through a Perspex walkway. It you enter the floor above, The Hive is all around you, glowing and buzzing with gentle music and then look up to see the sky above through the skylight and light streaming in through gaps in the structure. From all the Perspex and metal it’s a reflective dream with light chaotically bouncing about so makes for wonderful photos with people becoming chic silhouettes against the backdrop. Take a seat on this level or even lie on the floor if you can and it becomes a gallery space with gentle sounds all around it’s a meditative space. Enjoy the sensory experience of The Hive.
Getting Naked With Interview with Nik Speller
What is your background? Where are you from? What did you study?
I’m from Cambridgeshire originally, but I’ve lived in Manchester, Oxford, and now London. At uni I studied History and then international business – not two things that naturally go together, I guess; but, I couldn’t think what to do after uni, so staying on and studying a bit more seemed like the best (easiest) option.
And before anyone thinks I’m a millionaire, this was back in the day when uni was far far cheaper.
You’re a lifestyle writer for Buckets and Spades – how did you get into blogging?
I actually started writing my own food blog about 6 years ago, because people were sick of hearing me moaning about restaurants – and I guess they thought if I wrote it down, I’d stop talking about it.
From my tiny food blog, I was asked to write for a couple of bigger food blogs and then – somehow – Mat (editor of Buckets and Spades) and I bumped into each other on Twitter. Mat asked me to write a piece for him about what I wore to the gym (I think) and we went from there.
How have you seen menswear change and evolve over the years?
I guess the biggest change to the industry, that I’ve seen, is just how many start-up brands have come along, got up and running, really quickly, and really made a name for themselves. Social media has helped with this massively. Brands are able to spread the word and get in touch with those people who can help spread the word for them.
How do you think influencers will help to shape the future of menswear?
Influencers are helping smaller brands reach a larger audience, but they’re also providing decent customer feedback (if only the brands will listen). These guys know their clothes and know why they (and their audience) will buy them. Brands need to treat this as the gold it really is, get listening, and adjust their products, marketing, and the like accordingly.
What’s your failsafe outfit or signature look? Do you have any favourite brands or designers you admire?
Ha ha. You’re asking the wrong person here. I have a classic ‘go to’ – but whether it’s a fail-safe outfit or signature look, I don’t know. Here it is: white trainers, black jeans, blue Oxford shirt, grey sweater, harrington jacket. If you ever see me walking the streets of London, I’ll most likely be wearing that and will have my head buried in my phone.
Do you have any favourite products or grooming tips?
I’m too much of a bloke (ha ha) for grooming products. Everyone tells me I need to moisturise and whatever else, but I’m not really sure I know what I’m doing. I wear some moisturiser after shaving. That’s about it.
That said, I’ve started watching a few YouTubers who know their grooming onions. Robin James (@ManForHimself) is one funny guy and seems to give decent grooming tips – one day I might actually act on them.
You’re also a co-founder of marketing agency Three Letters, how did that come about? What’s behind the name?
Three Letters is an agency that I’m working on with Mat (editor of Buckets and Spades). We put the business together to give a more formal feel to the work we were already doing ‘behind the scenes’ with brands – helping them identify the right influencers to work with and helping them work out the best way of working with these guys.
The name? That came about because both of our first names have three letters in them. Simple!
How important is your working relationship with Creative Director Matthew Pike?
Very important! Whether we’re working on a project for Three Letters or Buckets and Spades, we have to collaborate closely to make sure that we always deliver quality. We’ve become sounding boards for near enough everything now – ideas, outreach, projects, photos, travel, holidays, music, you name it!
I spotted on your website that you’ll send out your top pick of influencers each month (for FREE!?) – is that your USP?
Yeah. For free. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? We use to charge for the data and we built a nice client list; but, my life had basically become selling the database and I was getting so bored of being a salesman, it was depressing.
We see our database as a who’s-who of UK based men’s lifestyle influencers. Within the 450+ influencers in the database are the people that brands and agencies need to be working with to promote their products. It’s a no-brainer not to get signed-up to receive the data, to be honest. Although, I would say that, wouldn’t I.
(Sign-up here: https://www.threelettersagency.com/influencer-database/)
How hard was it to get up and running? What were the biggest hurdles?
Starting a business is easy. It costs about £15 to register a name and about the same to get a website going. The hardest part is winning clients. I’ve worked for myself before, so I know just how hard it is. Meetings, emails, meetings, emails, coffees, breakfasts, hand shakes, networking, the promise of work, work, and more work, which always disappears, goes on hold, and is cancelled for unknown reasons. And then, when you do win a project, sign-up a new client, or deliver some work, it feels completely amazing. There’s nothing like it! A real thrill of a reward for all your hard effort.
You’re leading the charge against #Instafraud, where was the tipping point when you decided to take action? (I’ll embed the video you made here)
Ha ha! Leading the charge! I like that. I don’t think I am, to be honest. There are a lot of people out there making more noise and really pushing the case. I think I was lucky in that I published that video just before a bank holiday, when – for whatever reason – people had chance to sit down, watch what I did, and then uncover some fraudsters of their own. That set things off, with accusations, denials, and apologies.
I think of myself as being fairly tech savvy – Instagram star LornaLuxe http://nakedprgirl.com/2017/02/lornaluxe-nakedprgirl-how-to-speak-to-influencers/ and I talk all the time about influencers buying followers – but even I didn’t know terms like Rubber Banding and how widespread the spam bots are. Have we got too much trust in Instagram? Do we need more education? How can we win against such a big organisation?
Personally, I have zero trust in the data behind Instagram. Automated engagement is rife across the whole network and it makes a total mockery of any ‘engagement score’ anyone tries to calculate from it. As I’ve said recently, any ‘score’ you can easily produce by using the relevant hashtags to draw in the bots. It’s beyond a joke really.
In terms of trusting Instagram as an organisation, I’d like to believe that they’re just a bit naive as to how bad things are with their network. But, then they’re a massive company, with billions of dollars at their disposal. How have they not identified this as a massive risk to their business? And why are they not seeming to do anything about it?
I think folks like me banging on about Instafraud will only take us so far. I’ll get bored eventually and probably give up; but, if a major media outlet takes it up and if brands, advertisers, and decent agencies start asking questions publicly, Instagram will have to act – either that or they’ll die.
What advice would you give to a blogger who has used bots? What should they do to rectify it?
There’s not a lot you can do, I guess. The thing to do is stop and focus on building decent content that wins you an audience, organically. I’m not sure whether it’s worth telling the world you used bots, but prepare an answer / response to send out if someone calls you out.
Something along the lines of ‘feeling the pressure of the industry’ etc – I’ve seen that one rolled out, along with the (possibly fake) tears a couple of times now: ‘I’m so sorry! (I got caught)’
Have you been surprised by some of the people you’ve uncovered using bots? Do you think bloggers are scared they will now be caught out?
Initially, some where; but, many just carry on. They know they have to. Their content isn’t good enough to justify that following and if they stop, they know they’ll lose a lot of ‘followers’ – which will cause them trouble when brands ponder why they’re in decline.
I’ve been surprised by just how many people have used bots, yep. Many of them, it was sad to see, as I didn’t think they needed to (because they produce good content) – and very frustrating, as I’d told brands about how great they were! And that makes me look a fool.
What advice do you give to brands looking to work with influencers?
I can’t give too much away or people will stop paying me! One key bit of advice I always give (which routinely gets ignored) is that influencers understand their audience and what compels that audience to pay attention to a brand – so get them involved in campaign planning.
Brands don’t involve influencers enough. They see them more as ad spaces, rather than content creators. When they do the former, they miss a massive opportunity to build a real connection with their audience and – basically – throw most of their money away. When they do the latter, they build credible, engaging content, that speaks to their audience and motivates them to act in the way the brand desires.
Other than Instagram, what’s your view on current social platforms? What’s your favourite? Anything new on the horizon?
I’m getting back into Twitter a little more these days. People seem keener to chat on their then they did about a year ago – when the whole place became one big link share platform.
Instagram is still the winner for me. As much as I hate the statistics and the cheating, I have to say that the network is still the best place to be. And, with Instagram Stories, it’s now a lot more engaging. I love seeing what people are up to and (especially) what creative approaches they can develop on Stories.
I like how you promote micro-influencers and encourage people to look beyond numbers, why is that and who are you championing at the moment?
The reason I champion micro-influencers is that numbers are not the end game – but they’ve become it. Social media is about content – in any number of forms – and the impact it has. The numbers should reflect the popularity of that content, but we all know they don’t. Plus, just having high followers or engagement doesn’t mean your content is actually any good.
That’s not to say, for one minute, that people with a big following don’t produce good content – by the way.
In terms of the guys I like, I’m going on Instagram here and not just men’s lifestyle folks – but it’s people like @worshipblues, @scotchtrooper, and @haarkon_ who really inspire me. Such great takes on the world, all for very different reasons.
Do you have a motto or a mantra that you live by?
I wish I was that cool. Or maybe I don’t. I’m not sure mantras are really something I give much thought to, really. I like the idea of doing those things that interest you and that you’re passionate about. I also can’t stand fake people and suck-ups – which makes it incredibly difficult to work in marketing, as the industry is full of people with very little to add, aside from being able to say they know this person, that person, or someone else.
What advice would you give to someone looking to be a blogger or influencer?
Don’t try and be an influencer. That’s the first piece of advice. Be a creator. Think of the content that you enjoy and that you’d like to produce – and do that. The influence part will come later if / when others enjoy your content. If you don’t do this, you might become an influencer, but it’ll be on a fake basis, that you can’t support long term, and that’ll leave you fairly unhappy.
Where will you be in ten years time?
Probably sat in a dark room somewhere, ranting about Instagram bots to the wall. Ha ha ha. I’m not sure. 10 years ago, I had no idea where I’d be now, so I’m not sure how I can foresee the next ten years – to be honest. Most of my dreams involve sitting on comfy chairs and drinking whisky, so if I’m doing that, I’ll be pretty happy.
You’ll have seen Notting Hill a thousand times. On TV/movies and most of all, on social media, ESPECIALLY the image friendly Instagram/Pinterest platforms. I’ve been actually living in Notting Hill for around five months now and still have a lot to learn, however one thing is for sure, it is a busy little place. Expect pretty Victorian houses, heaps of pretty flowers and fashionistas on every corner, yes this is one place where no one bats an eyelid if you pose up a storm! I had a little look around Instagram and asked some of my blogger pals for a bit of advice to make up this hot list! Let’s go!
Start at Notting Hill Gate..
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road is a MUST especially for Instagram folk chasing down cupcakes (we’re looking at you Hummingbird Bakery) and pretty pastel houses. On Saturday the market is MENTAL – watch your bag/purse/phone in the busy streets but DO enjoy the food, drink and vintage finds. The whole street is amazing and start at Notting Hill Gate and walk all the way down to Ladbroke Grove. My tip – Goldsmith’s Vintage half way down!
Blossom is such a treat and every single petal seems to signals the start of Spring. It lasts for around a month, so you have to pick your moment or you will wonder what all the fuss is about! I would say it starts around mid-March, peaking in early April and finishing with a flurry at the end of April. I love Hereford Road, Chepstow Road and Northumberland Place for my blossom fix. Don’t worry, when it is over, we enter Wisteria Hysteria!
In The Pink
Bloggers Belle&Bunty have made a career out of finding those pink doors for the perfect snaps in London! Head over to their blog which includes all the best ones rounded up in one place – including these two insta-favourites. Read Belle & Bunty Pink Doors & Houses.
I’ve written about the Electric Cinema and Electric Diner many times over on TimeOut London but let me confirm one more time that this is a cool place to be. It is the neighbour to the sought after The Electric (of Soho House) and you can enjoy a retro cinema or pop next door to the diner which serves up strong cocktails and an excellent Steak Frites. Perfect for those foodie flatlays.
Notting Hill Book Shop
An obvs one. Obvs. This quaint and lovely bookshop featured in the film made famous by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts…in errr yah Notting Hill. Pop to Blenheim Crescent where tourists are practically queuing up to take snaps outside the famous location and read more here on Movie Locations about how Notting Hill was used in the film. It also includes the famous ‘blue door’ on Westbourne Park Road.
Pastel House Chasing
Pastel houses are pretty frequent around Notting Hill, but one of my favourite places it to turn off Notting Hill and go down Elgin Crescent before joining Clarendon Road and going back towards Notting Hill. It just seems to have row upon row of yellow, pink and blue houses. Ah.
Farm Girl Pearl and Groove
Wisteria is the pretty lilac coloured, house covered plant that looks incredible in pictures. Timing wise, look for this mid to end April and it is a case of poking around until you find it. Theres a lovely bit at the top of Portobello Road and also near Landsdowne Road.
Westbourne Park Road
When you’ve finished with Portobello Road, turn off down the side of Gails and do a little twist and turn to end up at Westbourne Park Road. Here you’ll find gorgeous swishy, luxury cafes like Daylesford, Grainger and 202, designer boutiques including Matches and Maje, the most heavenly flower stand (FashionFoieGras loves this wall!) and just the best vibes!
A little further down (after you go across the crossroads) you have Farmacy – the HOT NEW PLACE and everything is super high quality and perfect for Instagram. I had a £7 organic hot chocolate so just a little FYI on pricing! Further down you have Planet Organic which is like a playground to all that is healthy and good. You’ll lose hours to browsing and munching.
Notting Hill Carnival
The picture tastic colourama that is the Notting Hill Carnival is completely crazy, busy and fun. I’d recommend scouting around the edges of Notting Hill for places to escape to if it all gets a bit too much. The Westbourne and The Waterway are a touch away from the main action (although you can still SEE the carnival from The Westbourne. Wear flats and be ready for anything is my advice.
If all of this is making you feel thirsty, try Sun & Splendour as this cute little boozer serves up mulled wine over Christmas which has made it one of my favourites! Perfect for Winter cosiness. The Cow, well David Beckham was once there with Tom Cruise – enough said non? Or how about Prince Bonaparte which is always kicking with cool locals.
My NakedPRGirl blog and business is all about honesty and going behind the smoke and mirrors of the PR & Marketing industry…but today I find myself in unfamiliar territory and am looking to a relationship guru to share his secrets instead. Let me introduce you to Matthew Hussey, he’s a relationship expert/love doctor type who I first discovered through friends who were looking to decode the modern relationship. Naturally, I was totally cynical, spending an inordinate amount of time watching his YouTube videos on ‘What To Text Him’ and such the like and telling everyone that I thought it was all a bit ridiculous. Until that is I began to admire him – there I said it. For one, the man KNOWS his marketing – or rather his team do. Giving us that perfect mix of slick videos with down-to-earth moments and ‘real life’ examples. He knows how to tease me. Goddammit Matthew, I went from casual YouTube-ing to getting the ‘Get The Guy Book’ from the Maida Vale Library to subscribing to your fancy members area (HELP HELP!), ‘he’ emails me every single day – that’s more often than my clients do!
But jokes aside, I knew he was really onto something when my mum (who was visiting me before Christmas and has been happily married for 30 years I might add), picked up the Get The Guy book and started reading it, proclaiming ‘it has some really interesting points.’ And it does, and what I’ve realised is that these are really life skills, they are skills that have been forgotten amongst the digital malarky and I think they’re so important that I am telling anyone who will listen about them. So here are the SEVEN things Matthew Hussey can teach us about LIFE and more importantly for the PR industry, about networking:
1 – IN REAL LIFE – Digital (of course) has it’s place – in dating and in business. BUT Hussey will be the first to tell you that we need to work on our social skills in the everyday. Wow – so true isn’t it? So that means, talking to people. Actually speaking to them, and more of them, and being friendly, men, women of all ages, just try it. Not all your conversations will lead anywhere but they will get you used to talking to people and therefore make you better at it. And when you meet that man/woman of your dreams or that influential business person, you’re less likely to look like a rabbit in headlights. Try and chat to a couple of strangers today and see how hard it has become, if you do it everyday it gets easier.
2 – BE THE BUTTERFLY – I’m always jealous of those people who come in, light up a room, smile and chat and move effortlessly between groups, before sliding out of the door while you’re still hanging in the corner clutching a glass of champagne and trapped (usually) with some dude trying to sell you an affiliate scheme. In any situation, we can get so much more out of life by enlarging our social circle and getting to know more people. So the next time you’re stuck in one of those conferences with a name badge, challenge yourself to move around more.
3 – BUILD RAPPORT – Argh but like HOWWWWW??? For a long time I didn’t realise my job was to be friendly with people. As a PR Assistant ten years ago, I was usually in the background and working away but these days as a Consultant, most business is face to face. Building rapport isn’t easy and some people are better than others which is why we should practice. Maybe you already do this, maybe it’s complementing someone when you meet them (oh your shoes are ah-mazing etc)…whatever it is make sure you have a few failsafe things to say and you’ll soon relax and be yourself.
4 – CREATE A ROUTINE FOR SUCCES – Hussey loves a good quote, and he especially likes The Great Gatsby (one of my all time faves) and in the video below he talks about how Gatsby created a timetable for himself to prepare for success. Organisation and strategy is the key to success, in business and in love. That can mean anything from making it a weekly task to visit a new venue, checking out a new event from likeminded people or even using social media to do your homework on new connections and network for half an hour each day. The key, sharpen up.
5 – IMAGE – Now then, I often talk about image in business and Hussey’s assertion with dating is that you should always be ready; ‘if you’re always ready, you don’t need to get ready.’ What he means is that, ideally you’d always be happy to run into your ex because you’re taking care of yourself. Same applies here. You might run into a new client or influencer on a Sunday afternoon, and you don’t want to be put off from chatting to them because you haven’t washed your hair. That’s not to say you have to go OTT every time you leave the house, (note you do not need to channel VB in skyscraper heels at all times – well not unless you Uber everywhere) just that you want to be happy with your appearance.
6 – HOLD AN EVENT – In dating Hussey looks at enhancing your social circle by going to new places and holding regular get togethers with friends old and new. In business, instead of ploughing money into Facebook advertising, how about an event where you can keep talking to regular contacts and getting to know new ones in an informal setting. Think you can’t do that? You totally can, just start with a small number of people and go from there. No one is expecting you to be throwing a BRIT Awards style party straight away…give it a year at least 😉
KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY – We all know that person in work, or in dating that is a total f*£k-wit time waster and will just keep leading you on and on with the hope it will go somewhere. When you get the feeling that you’re wasting your time, be confident that there are other people out there who will appreciate you. As Hussey says, be ‘high value’ so take note and be nice, firm and leave them to it.
So there you go seven things from Matthew Hussey’s ‘GET THE GUY’ world that can translate to real life; in your love life and your work life. You can buy this on Amazon and head over to his YouTube channel to watch the videos. Be warned, he’s addictive.
Spilling secrets is fast becoming something that LornaLuxe and I excel at. Especially if it is combined with an audience, an agenda about digital and each other...Read more
Nicola de Burlet is a chic, classy, stylish PR...and there's no need to take my word for it, let's listen to what Trish Halpin, editor of Marie Claire had to say...Read more
You'll have seen Notting Hill a thousand times. On TV and film and most of all, on social media, ESPECIALLY the image friendly platforms of Instagram and Pinterest...Read more
My NakedPRGirl blog and business is all about honesty and going behind the smoke and mirrors of the PR & Marketing industry…but today I find myself...Read more
“Claire was my PR and Marketing Manager for four years at Donna Ida so we worked closely together to build a marketing strategy for the Ultimate Denim Destination. Claire’s PR experience led to an increase in press coverage 30% year-on-year with a focus on luxury titles and targeting key editors"Read The Full Testimonial
Claire was very well liked by the press and they felt very happy and comfortable with her, so much so that they were just as happy going to Claire as they were coming to me. We developed a press strategy of one-to-one appointments and special evening press dinners to encourage exclusivity with exceptional results.
She worked closely with our in-house creative team to build the brand and my personal profile within the fashion and business sectors, managing photo shoots and Look Books. Claire is loyal, entrepreneurial and strategic so when presented with a challenge she sees it as an opportunity.
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