Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Starting your own home-based communications consultancy?

Here's 4 tips to keep you sane...

So you've decided to take the plunge and start your own home-based consultancy.
You have grand ideas of being your own boss, visions of leisurely days, working in your jeans, having time to 'do lunch' with your friends around your work time.
For those of you, like myself who have been working from a home office for sometime you will know only too well that often the line between work life and home life soon blurs. When I started I often found myself putting on a load of washing before I wrote a proposal for a workshop, or cleaning up the kitchen before returning a call.
Hello real world home office! So much for increased productivity and flexibility.

Over the past two years I have spent some time trying to work out how to keep some of my time structured and some of it flexible. Here are some of the tips I have found to help keep me on track:

Tip #1 Create a work space - keeping a separate, distinct work area in your house will assist you to still be able to go to work when you need to and switch into work mode. I am fortunate to have a spare bedroom that I use as an office however I also share this space with my husband and for him time on his computer is for leisure so I have had to at least define part of the desk space as the 'office'.

Tip #2 Plan your work week - just as you would have used your calendar or outlook when working for someone else to schedule your time and account for your activities, so too you can allocate your time when self employed. For example, if you regularly exercise (I walk my dog Chops at 6am every day), try to do it at the same time each and every day - create the habit. If you commit to start work each day at a certain time - my start time is 8am - then keep that commitment with yourself and keep the pattern and habit a part of your every day.

Tip #3 Let technology be your friend. Client meetings are very valuable when appropriate as there is nothing quite like face to face communication, but schedule them only when required. For correspondance in between sessions or meetings where possible try to use the assistance of technology such as phone, fax, email and if you love technology like I do, use your blackberry or similar device so you can keep in touch with urgent emails and appointments even when you are out of the office. Also make absolutely sure that you get separate lines for your business phone, fax, and internet, the days of the home phone/fax are over!

Tip #4 Keep time zappers at bay. Many of your friends and family will see you as suddenly available now you are working from home. For me the biggest zapper is my husband who is so pleased with his own efficiency when he calls and asks if I can pop down to a local supplier for him. It is very hard to be clear on boundaries but so important if you want to be effective in your business. When zappers call you simply to chat, politely remind them that you're working, and ask them if you can call them back after work or at your designated break time. I allow myself an hour and a half each day for lunch from 12.30 - 2pm and use that time to run all my errands such as going to my PO Box and the bank, so I make it very clear to hubby that if I can fit the errand into my break time then I will do it. He knows now to make sure he's called before noon if he really really needs something.

Working as a solopreneur has so many benefits and pluses and can be very rewarding if you form good habits early on. I hope you find these tips useful in your journey to becoming a successful home-based consultant.

Yours in prosperity
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Philosophy of Public Relations

I was reading an interesting article this week that you may also glean some insights from. In summary here are some of the key points...
Public relations is about man, its fundamental function is to enlighten, educate, emancipate, energize, empower, elevate and enrich man. It can empower an individual through the dissemination of relevant information (education). Therefore the philosophy of PR is the philosophy about human kind. It is important to know the nature of man,this will help in knowing the means of educating man. Because man is not just a biological organism but an animal endowed with reason whose highest dignity is in the intellect. Public relations as a management function helps in defining and achieving organizational objectives and philosophy, adapts to a changing environment and facilitate organizational change. PR practitioners communicate with all relevant internal and external publics in the effort to create consistency between organizational goals and societal expectations. Their duties go far beyond the skills of communicating like their counterparts in other functional areas of their organization, must be able to influence policy decision and developing strategies to implement them. PR informs, creates ideas,persuades people and makes things happen. It establishes and maintains mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and cooperation between an organization and its publics.
To access the full article visit
All the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Branding your small business

With so many small businesses in the marketplace, how do you differentiate yours from the competition?
If you want to set yourself apart from the others you will have to think outside the box. The most important things to remember when conducting business are the three C’s; Creativity, Credibility and Clients.
You shouldn’t follow the sheep when creating your business brand, be different, daring and innovative. Think about what you could do that your competitor isn’t doing or if your product or service is similar, find a way to do the same thing but in a different and more effective way. Consider what you can do to add value in a new and interesting fashion.
When building your brand in the market it is important to remember that first impressions are everything. You should always have a good turn around time and a quick response to enquiries to strengthen your credibility. People talk and just one unsatisfied customer can damage your brand name and reputation.
Clients are essential in keeping your business thriving and growing. This isn’t science, it’s how businesses work. If you can’t keep your clients then you can’t keep your business. Consider having annual sales and discount coupons for your regular and first time customers. Coupons are a great way to get your brand name out there and more companies should use them to strengthen their trademark.
Separating your business from another business takes a lot of work and persistence and the best way to make it work is to leverage off everything you do. Make sure that you conduct your business in a creative and credible way where your clients are your number one focus. If you do this, you will be sending your company in the right direction towards creating the brand you desire.

Written by Cae Besaw

Friday, October 5, 2007

Websites that work

How many of your customers come to you as a result of your website? If the answer’s not many, perhaps it’s time to put the spotlight on your site’s content and look at the best way of writing websites.

Reviewing our own websites is a task many of us procrastinate over - yes I admit including me - since I launched my website in 2006 ( I am ashamed to say I have only update it a few times.

But as a communicator and marketer I know that regularly checking all the weapons in your marketing arsenal, including your website, is a valuable exercise. So it is part of my business focus over the next few months...what about you?

So perhaps its time to give your website and check it meets the following criteria:
1. Is it useful and relevant to my target market?
2. Has the content been written with the web in mind?
3. Is it current?
4. What do people think?
5. How many people are visiting and staying?

Writing websites with decent web content requires time and effort, but it’s worth it if you want to turn browsers into buyers. Get writing and improve your online presence today!

All the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Recently posted was a message from “Blankset” who asked some questions about the industry and I’d like to open them up to you all for comment.

Q1 What is the best approach to making media contacts within industries in which you are completely un-networked? A simple email intro?

Q2 Who is the best first-point-of-contact person at various publications?

Q3 What are some of the most exciting break-the-mold new types of 'PR' you have observed in the last 5 years?

I have my thoughts – what are yours? Feel free to post a reply answer to one or all of the questions.

Following is a link to a conference in Sydney on “Achieving Internal Communications Best Practice in the Public Sector” that I am delighted to be speaking at
Yours in prosperity, passion and purpose
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Friday, September 7, 2007

Measuring employee engagement in an ideal world

In the latest issue of Strategic Communication Management, Michael J Critelli, CEO of Pitney Bowes, describes how – in an ideal world – he'd like to track employee engagement.
He sets an imaginary scene where he can open up a management dashboard and the communication screens provide him with high-level data on the reach, comprehension and engagement ratings achieved in the first day of the roll-out of his communications plan. Interested to know more? Read his full article to get ideas on how to make your own communication performance data more compelling.
Until next time all the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Professional Communicators Coach

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Try before you buy

The marketing strategy of sampling or "Try before you buy" is still alive and well it seems.
For example: iTunes Store lets you hear samples of any song before purchasing, Baker's Delight offer you a taste of their daily bread or scones special at the counter. In my own coaching practice I offer all new potential clients a free coaching session so they can see if my coaching style is a good fit for their style and to see if coaching is for them.
I find this is the best way to add value to a potential client and allow them to get a real life experience of the benefits of coaching.
Sean D'Souza, a marketing writer described revealing a lot of your best material as "The Bikini Concept" because a little taste makes people interested in finding out the rest. Here's a link to his article
So have any of you ever offered a trial product, sampling of information or services as part of your marketing strategy?
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Sunday, August 26, 2007

How to network like a pro online

Dear Communicators
As you know in our industry your networks are like gold.
Some people say it's not what you know but who you know that matters - I believe it goes further than that - I believe it is who knows what you know that really counts when it comes to leads, referrals and 'getting known' in your industry.
Not that I am saying that your worklife should revolve around getting known - such a goal on its own with no substance supporting it would not reap the rewards you are looking for. What I mean is that once you get good at your chosen field and become comfortable with your level of expertise it's time to share that - so don't be a secret! Why is it that so many of us who are in PR, marketing or advertising are so brilliant at writing great copy for a client, designing strategies and implementing media plans to help them get known and then we don't apply the same principles in our own careers? The plumber with the leaky tap strikes again!
Today I thought I would share with you a link to an article about getting known in cyberspace (for all the right reasons of course). To read more about "How to network like a pro online" visit
Haven't got a web presence at all yet? To get started come and connect with me on the new site APsense by following this link:
Until next time
Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Communicators Coach

Friday, August 17, 2007

Prosperity, passion and purpose

Life is so fantastic when you love what you are doing, are on purpose and achieving the goals you have set for yourself.

I've just celebrated a birthday and have to say getting older doesn't bother me in the slightest. In fact I am so grateful to be living right here and now and have the opportunities to coach so many wonderful communications professionals to achieve their goals and dreams. My clients are the best I love that they are so honest with themselves and I and are willing to stretch themselves - it is an honour to be a part of their lives and professional careers - thanks guys!

Here's a picture of me on my birthday surrounded by gorgeous flowers the love of my life sent me! Pictured with me is the other love of my life - my gorgeous pup "Chops".

Yes indeed I look a little tired - that's what celebrating does to you! (Thanks Nic for the bling bling earings).

All the best

Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Determining a brand's market perception

I am currently working on a project with a client to realign and refresh their brand to reflect their new direction.

One of the first steps I undertook was to engage a research company to undertake an audit or assessment of the brand’s perception in the market, so we knew the baseline we were starting from. This was an interesting exercise of both qualitative and quantitative research and although we had a good feel for where the brand sat in the market, it really did hone in on the specifics of which specific target audience thought what and allowed us to get some firm data to be able to communicate easily with the Executive number crunchers.

Our research included not only the key “customers,” but also key stakeholders and influencers, including staff. Essentially all the people in the company's "Circle of Influence" or COI. Tapping into the views of the COI can be very useful...Jennifer Jones has posted an interesting blog on this topic on MarketingProfs - visit here to read more and see her diagram of a COI

Gaining this defined and drilled down perspective about a brand will ultimately assist you in developing a target strategic marketing communications plan for the brand. I will keep you posted on my progress, until then I'd love to hear about what anyone else has done to measure their brand, shift an existing brand or launch a totally new one.

All the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New advertising and PR campaign: Blackberry and Storytelling

Those of you who know me well would know why this new campaign has touched me - I confess I am addicted to my Blackberry – so much so that I actually have two! (strange but true).
Blackberry is doing a pretty major media blitz with their new campaign, "Ask Someone Why They Love Their Blackberry."
The campaign is a good demonstration of the use of storytelling to promote a product.
Other than the early adopters of technology, many people - especially, perhaps, women look for the full spectrum of practical and emotional reasons for such a purchase – so it will be interesting to see if the power of storytelling will generate increased sales for Blackberry.
Due to the broad range of stories told, these Blackberry "Ask" stories appeal to a wider variety of people, many of whom might not otherwise identify with what could seem like same-old, same-old technology.
Has anyone else seen any great campaigns lately? Please share them with us.
Until next time
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Sunday, July 15, 2007

How happy are you right now?

Really think about it. How happy are you? Do you really want to be happy? Do you deserve to be happy? Are you doing everything in your power to be happy? Or do you think happiness is something only for the wealthy, the good-looking or the spiritual?

Through my privileged role as a coach supporting clients attain their goals and dreams, I see a common theme in what they all desire – quite simply, to be happy, whatever happiness means to them.

In many ways, most of our overall desires revolve around "being happy” and getting satisfied. But what is happiness, how do we achieve it and can it last?

I believe the key to remember is that everything material is impermanent. Just like beauty fades, and youth slips away, so does everything material. So our happiness cannot depend on the material. If we keep buying stuff and fill our lives up with stuff, eventually we will end up with stuff all!

For most of us, our most precious commodity is our time – once spent we cannot get it back. We like doing, evolving, learning, interacting, growing and moving. So when do we get time to relax, meditate and enjoy simply being in the moment? Can we learn to be content and truly happy with ourselves right here and now?

Author Urayoan Paz believes we can and has created a method called Gratitude-Bliss Meditation (GBM) to teach people how to do so. Based on ancient philosophies and basic common sense, GBM is designed to bring peace of mind. To access a copy of Urayon’s e-book on Gratitude-Bliss Meditation visit

For more information on how our coaching services can support you to achieve your bliss contact
Peace, happiness and love to you from Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Something amazing to watch

In a totally different form of communication - watch how this incredible painter communicates with paint and paper!

Copy and paste this link: to view Paintjam Dan Dunn at work. Amazing!

All the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interesting tidbits

In the spirit of sharing information and engaging with each other – a few things…
An interesting/creative website:
A new product that may be of interest to you if you are into website development and design:
New product: Microsoft Silverlight
Wanna know more? Read here to find out why it’s potentially better than flash:

Have your SAY: Which position sounds more senior to you?
a) Communications Coordinator
b) Senior Communications Officer
Vote (a) or (b).
All the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Friday, June 15, 2007

Communicating and networking with others

Recently a business colleague Matt Freedman facilitated a discussion on at which there was a general concensus that there is a lack of myspace type networks for business. Matt indicated that comes close but is very cluttered and you have to pay for a lot of the features.

In response, Matt decided to kick off a social network for Australia entrepreneurs. you can find it here

Personally I am a member of and have found it to be a great tool for connecting with others and allowing me connect with others in coaching and communications ie it is a connection network not a social network. See my profile

Join in either of these communities and contribute and share with others.

Friday, June 1, 2007

PR events

Greetings Communicators - following are some great events coming up in NSW soon for our industry.

13 June 2007 - Positioning to Stand Out/Creating a Stand Out Brand - What role does branding and positioning play in your business and in customer equity? How do they influence the work you deliver for your clients? Understand consumer behaviour and connect with the minds of your target audience. Visit

19 June 2007 - The Art of Consulting - This event is taking place over the evenings of the 19 and 26 June. This workshop will provide participants with insights into how a consultant can add value to their clients business.

All the best

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Communication / Education officer temporary position vacancy

A short term position vacancy exists as per below:

Opening for a Communciation / Education Officer on a temporary basis to work in a technical / legal area. Good remuneration. If you are interested please send your CV to Tim at

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Entry level position vacant

Harris Wheeler Lawyers are seeking a Marketing Coordinator.
“We are seeking a talented and enthusiastic graduate to play a key role in support of our business development. You will be required to work across a range of marketing initiatives including maintaining the quality of the firm database, updating website material and co-ordinating promotional material, activities and events. This position requires a solid understanding of the principles of marketing and business development plus advanced computer skills. Experience with database management, desktop publishing, spreadsheets and word processing is preferred. “
For more information or to submit an application contact the General Manager, Bruce Lachlan on 4907 6301 or email

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Subliminal Advertising Test

Greetings Communicators
For those of you in the marketing and advertising fields here is a video of an amazing experiment carried out by Derren Brown.
Using extremely subtle subliminal suggestion he is able to guide the ideas of two top advertising gurus as they create a new campaign, supposedly from their own imaginations.
I guarantee you will be shocked by the conclusion.
I know it raises for me serious questions about how easily we are influenced in every area of our lives.
What does it raise for you?
Until next time, be well.
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Photo library assistance requested

Hi Communicators - I have received a request for help from a fellow communicator - Lauren.

"I am keen to know whether other communications people can recommend a good photo cataloguing system. I'm wondering if there is a software program out there that is easy to use and can allow access by several staff members. Or do people just use an external hard drive? We are now using a 10.1 mega pixel digital SLR so reliable storage is needed.
Thanks Lauren"

If you have any ideas please post your response here.
Big smile!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Supporting 'newbies' in the industry

Hi there communicators
If you are interested in building and sustaining a successful career in professional communication, or you want to help others follow you path, then this blog is for you.
My aim over the coming months is to provide you with honest, no fuss how-to information and advice written both by myself - The Professional Communicators Coach - and by other experts in the industry.
If you would like to see a particular topic covered then please send me your request via email to or post a comment. Similarly if you have some helpful tips or information you would like to share with others in the industry, then please do likewise.
Here's to friendship and knowledge sharing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sweet advice or a smooth sales pitch?

As anyone who knows me or has been to any of my workshops or talks will testify – I love coaching. Having a great leader help someone get on track, gain clarity, expand their mind or their career path or laser their skills and strengths goes right to the core of what I believe coaching, and leadership, is all about. However coaching, like leadership, comes in many shapes and sizes and can also lead people astray or even confuse or distract them.

There are many individuals, organizations and franchise operations out there trying to make inroads into workplace, career and leadership coaching or attempting the transition from ‘life coaching’ to ‘business coaching’.

A deregulated market, these days anyone can call themselves a coach. The problem is that the position of a coach is one of trust. Coaches should be people that can add real value and perspective to what you are trying to achieve. A coach should have credibility, substance and experience and be able to communicate the essentials effectively. Most importantly a coach must listen first and support you in the way that suits you and your needs, not just follow a formula or process.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you should steer clear of coaching – quite the opposite in fact as I believe good coaching promotes creativity, performance and resilience and there are many exceptional coaches out there.

What I do recommend is that like any investment, that you do your research. Before taking on a coach, I recommend you ask for a free introductory session, a taste test, so you can evaluate the coach and their skills. Here are five things you might look for:
1 – How successful has the coach been in their own career? (If in doubt ask to see their resume!)
2 – Do they have real life leadership experience? (Remember it doesn’t need to be in your field of expertise to be effective.)
3 – Do they listen more than they talk? (Coaching is all about you, not the coaches agenda and ego.)
4 – Do they ask powerful questions to challenge you in seeking the truth? (Do you find yourself saying ‘Hmm good question’ and having to think before answering?)
5 – Do they demonstrate ethics and integrity? (A good coach will maintain your confidentiality no matter what – they never, ever gossip. Additionally they may be members of and abide by a professional Code of Ethics – such as ICF’s

Coaching shouldn't be a long drawn out process to make the most money and have people coming back again and again. It should only take a couple of sessions for you to have pinpointed some clear challenges and goals and started taking action towards them. Depending on what you hope to achieve your coach should be upskilling you so eventually they become redundant and you can keep yourself on track. It should be effective, to the point, challenging and direct.
Therefore if you are considering hiring a coach, be sure to get a taste test first so you can tell if it is indeed sweet advice or just a smooth sales pitch.
All the best

Welcome to the first posting for The Professional Communicators Coach

Welcome communicators to the blog that is designed especially for you. The aim of this blog is to generate discussion, knowledge sharing and provide insight into the professional communications industry.
Whether you come from PR, marketing, research, community consultation, fundraising, public speaking, journalism or are a new uni student trying to crack it in the communications industry I hope this blog provides you with value. Leading Value.
As the Director of coaching and training company "Leading Value" I work with communicators just like you to bring more prosperity, passion and purpose into your professional and personal life. As a professional communicator myself with over 12 years hands on experience I understand the barriers, issues and bonuses of working in this fast paced, ever changing industry.
I look forward to chatting with you very soon!
All the best