Work Essentials: My Guest Blog on Work from Home Wisdom

Work from Home Wisdom badgeThis month, rather than writing a blog here on my own site, I was asked by Judy Heminsley of Work from Home Wisdom to write a guest blog on the “5 Things I Can’t Work Without”. I love Judy’s blog and always enjoy clicking through to read her posts which are often informative as well as fun to read, so I was thrilled to provide a blog post for her.

Fluffy Slippers and Filofax
My fluffy slippers are definitely a work essential!

“5 Things I Can’t Work Without” is a series of blogs written by various people who run their businesses from home. It’s a very popular read – we are by nature nosey folks who love to learn about other people and what their routines look like day-to-day, especially with so much flexibility and freedom involved in home working.

So here is my guest blog on the 5 Things Back Room SAM Can’t Work Without. I have made an effort to avoid the obvious items like a laptop or mobile phone, and instead tried to include things that explain the nature of my business and give a good idea about some of my character traits (the photo might give you some clues about some of the items I’ve chosen…)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading it!

sarah x

How to Handle Negative Publicity: Guest Blog by Judith Coyle

How to handle negative publicity

Most of my work involves writing in a positive way – mostly through tightly-written press releases informing media and their audiences of a new service, product, exhibition, cause, and so on. But very occasionally I am asked to advise on negative publicity that a client may have received.

This is what I am doing this week.

A client – and a friend of 30 years plus – has written a book, which I proofread.  This book has been praised by readers and critics alike. Some critics have flagged up areas where the book or my client’s actions, might have been stronger or more informed, but this criticism has been given positively and constructively.

Until Mr X came along. Mr X fancies himself as a book reviewer on a specialist forum and, somewhat tellingly, describes himself as an “almost author”. On this well-read, active forum Mr X has made a savage attack, bordering on defamation, on my client. He attacks my client’s ‘life choices’, as they say, character and behaviour.  He states that he could not finish the book (reaching page 76) yet goes onto make many inaccurate claims – factually and ethically – about the book’s contents and my client. The review has been read by hundreds of people.

My client is distraught. Writing and selling is my client’s livelihood, not a hobby.

But isn’t all publicity good publicity?

Hard to say. The posting has created a lot of comment on the forum, much of it in support of my client, but there are others who may well be influenced by the criticisms. Remember Gerald Ratner? His career took a nose dive after he claimed his company’s jewellery was “crap”.

So how do you handle negative publicity?

  1. Don’t react straightaway. Sleep on it.
  2. Identity what it is about the ‘attack’ that upsets you. Is the person attacking your product, your company or your character?
  3. Can you pinpoint what your opponent’s underlying agenda is? You are dealing with another human being. You don’t know what is going on in their life, the frustrations they are suffering, or their ‘issues’. Maybe they are taking out their frustrations on you. You can’t know so handle then with care.
  4. Has the critic touched a nerve? Is there some kernel of truth that makes you uncomfortable?  Be honest with yourself.
  5. Think about the best channel to use for your response. This could be a forum, a personal letter or email, a phone call or through using a mediator/management or PR representative.
  6. Collect testimonials from people who support your product, service or project.
  7. Encourage other people to review your product. Get these up on the web so that these positive reviews drown out the negative ones.
  8. Don’t go in all guns blazing but remind the critic that defamation/slander/libel is a legal matter. People forget that even online arenas such as Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs are public spaces. People have been taken to court over things they have typed in anger or carelessly let slip.
  9. Draft your response in writing.
  10. Get a professional (like me!) to look over your words. An impartial eye will help you to present your case more powerfully and less emotionally.  A trained writer will also edit for grammar and spelling as mistakes here can undermine your professional demeanour.

Many thanks to Judith Coyle for writing this guest blog.

judith coyleJudith Coyle is a writer, editor and PR person who works with small businesses, sole traders and projects. She is a member of Lancaster Ethical Small Traders’ Association (ESTA). Find her at



I hope you enjoyed reading and see you again soon!

sarah x

SAM a Superwoman of Lancashire: My video interview with Jane Binnion

This month, Jane Binnion of fellow Lancaster-based business Jane’s Social Media kindly invited me to be part of her series of blog posts entitled ‘the Superwomen of Lancashire’.

According to People Management Magazine, the number of self-employed women in the UK has increased by 172,000 since the start of the recession in 2008. So how fitting was Jane’s desire was to gather and share the experiences and challenges of a number of local business women in the Lancashire area. With me still being quite new to the world of self-employment and with a wish to share my experiences so far, I of course jumped at the chance to be part of this great project. But rather than writing a 500 word blog post, I asked Jane if Back Room SAM’s contribution could be in the form of a video blog instead.

In my interview Jane gave me opportunity to share my motivations for going self-employed, the personal challenges of running my own business and the joys of collaborating with other local traders. I also expressed my desire to see more graduates consider staying in Lancaster after study and look to how they can use their skills to invest in our city.

I’m not sure how I feel about being described as one of the ‘superwomen of Lancashire’. These are hard times and any kind of work will always have its challenges, and the kinds of challenges I have faced over the last year will no doubt be similar to those others have had to deal with. But maybe what might qualify me, and many other of the lovely local business ladies Jane has spoken to, is the desire and courage to step out and see if business and work can be done another way, a better way. A way which allows us to support our families while remaining flexible to our other responsibilities and circumstances. A way which empowers us to creatively flex and make use of whatever skills we have harnessed so far however we see fit. And a way which ultimately and fruitfully works for the good of not just ourselves and our homes and families, but also the local Lancashire economy as a whole. Maybe that does qualify for Superwoman status after all….

I hope you enjoyed watching, and look out for more videos posts here on my blog soon!

sarah x