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Friday, 22 February 2013

If your agency implies SEO is a ‘Dark Art’, change your agency

If your agency implies SEO is a ‘Dark Art’, change your agency Consultants are always keen to deliver good returns for their clients but probably less inclined to tell them how they did it. As a sport PR agency, our address book is not just a source of pride, it is the envy of many so as you can imagine, we share it judiciously. However, sharing contacts is somewhat different from refusing to share strategy or tactics. At ENS we pride ourselves on being open and nimble to respond to clients’ needs. So as the market evolves, we tailor our proposition accordingly, the upshot being that we now offer online public relations (supported by an impressive track record) as well as ‘traditional’ PR (remember when ‘new media’ was the phrase that was placed in quote marks?). This evolution has been led by all the key search engines’ requiring good content which, in turn, means a large part of what we deliver is SEO. Now that we are having search engine conversations with clients, it is truly shocking to realize just how many have been persuaded that SEO is the stuff of wizardry beyond the comprehension of normal mortals. If I am honest, I am not sure if I am more impressed than annoyed with the gall of anyone presenting SEO as a skill akin to alchemy – for all I know CJ Sansom, inspired by his own ‘Dark Fire’ book, drew up the creds that became the industry standard. What I do know that online public relations is like every other aspect of marketing I have worked in – success requires well applied levels of perspiration and inspiration. For my money too many agencies get very excited about creative opportunities – and don’t get me wrong, so do we. They are fun, impressive, easy to pitch, billable and moreover, they are the elements of your work that win awards (and if you doubt me, when did you last see an industry award for the agency that sent through the most press releases with fewest amends needed?). However, to overlook doing the basics well is to short change a client massively. From a client’s point of view, it may not be fun to sit through the technical details for how an agency plans to conduct the nitty gritty of the business, but if you can dedicate the time to listen, you’d be amazed at what you’d learn

Friday, 15 February 2013

Seven Fun Facts about Marathons

1) Great Britain’s Paula Radcliff continues to hold the world record as fastest female marathon runner. She completed the London Marathon in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds in 2003. She has won the London Marathon three times, the New York Marathon twice and the Chicago Marathon once. 2) The New York Marathon, now considered to be the busiest marathon in the world, originated in 1970 with as few as 127 runners who paid an entry fee of $1. It involved running several loops through Central Park and just 55 of the participants completed the race. 3) Both the world’s oldest and youngest marathon runners ever are of Indian origin. The youngest, named Budhia Singh, is an Indian slum child who had run over 48 marathons by the age of 5. The oldest is Fauja Singh who became both the oldest person to ever complete a marathon and the only centenarian marathon runner when he crossed the finishing line of the Toronto Marathon at 100 years of age. 4) Marathons originated in Greece. Legend has it that after the Greek victory over the Persians in 490 B.C. a soldier named Pheidippides ran 25 miles from the battlefield in Marathon all the way to Athens the tell the news. Once he arrived, he yelled “Rejoice, we are victorious” and then collapsed and died. Since then, a marathon took place every year in memory of Pheidippides. Marathons still take place in Greece and the Athens Marathon for example is a great opportunity to run abroad. 5) Most marathons around the world are 26.2 miles long. However, until the 1908 London Olympics, marathons were generally around 25 miles. The length was originally intended to be 26 miles, however Queen Alexandra requested this was changed to 26.2 miles so that the finish line was at the East Law of Windsor Castle and the royal children could watch the race from their nursery. 6) Some races are even longer, more challenging and more tiring than the marathon. The ‘Ultramarathon’ is often a few marathons in a row run in gruelling conditions. Definitely not a beginner’s marathon, the Badwater Ultramarathon is a 135-mile route from Death Valley in California to Mount Whitney and covers three mountain ranges. Run in the sun, the Marathon of Sands takes place over six days in Saharan Africa and covers a distance equivalent of six marathons. Runners are also required to carry their own belongings along the way! 7) There are some very exotic and unique international marathons around the world. For example, there is a marathon along the steps of the Great Wall of China, the North Pole Marathon as well as the Walt Disney World Marathon in which participants run through various Disney parks. run by the sea, Limassol is the host venue for one of the most picturesque international half marathons in Europe. It is popular amongst experts seeking fast marathon courses or novices simply wanting to run abroad.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

International Marathons

Honolulu Marathon - Suitable for runners of all abilities, this marathon has some of the most scenic routes through Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and Hawaii Kai. There is no maximum to the number of runners allowed to take part and the finish line is kept open until 8.30pm – over 15 hours after the race starts. Many of the runners, 60 per cent in fact, travel from Japan to partake. The finish line is at Kapiolani Park where runners can simply cross the street and jump into the ocean; the perfect way to end a race! Marathon du Medoc (Bordeaux) - This is not a marathon for personal bests. It is less about the running and more about the food and drink! Most of the 8,000 runners dress in fancy dress costumes and the organisers encourage mingling amongst participants. Yet the best bit about this race is the food and drink you encounter along the way. There are 21 food stands with cheese, steak and oysters as well as 22 wine tastings so you can sample the best of Bordeaux. A medical certificate is mandatory for this race but there is no rush; most people finish in around five hours. The Limassol Marathon, Cyprus - Taking place on 24th March 2013, this flat marathon is great for beginners as well as more experienced runners who want to set a personal best time. As well as the full marathon, there is also the half marathon which is one of the most popular European half marathons as well as the 10k race, the 5k race and a 1k kids ‘fun run’. The route follows a beautiful stretch of the coast and its warm climate makes for an enjoyable run in the sun. Prague Marathon - Many high profile runners take part in the Prague Marathon, which is a very popular European marathon. It is considered by many to be one of the top 10 marathons in the world. It is mainly flat and so is a great beginner’s marathon and the views are spectacular as participants wind their way through the streets of this beautiful city. Big Sur Marathon, California - Take this opportunity to run abroad along northern California’s Highway One, a National Scenic Byway which offers breath taking coastal views. Organisers of this marathon have called the experience “running on the edge of the Western world”. There are also music groups that play along the route including Taiko drummers which is a form of Japanese drumming. Run by the sea, Limassol is the host venue for one of the most picturesque European half marathons in Europe. It is popular amongst experts seeking flat marathon courses or novices simply wanting to run abroad.

Exmoor Cycle Hub

With its beautiful beaches, vast landscapes and historic sites, there is such a variety of things to see in Exmoor. The stunning coastline is 55km long with some of the highest cliffs in England and the Exmoor Coastal Heaths have been recognised as a SSSI (Site of Specific Interest) as it has such a large variety and diversity of plant species. As well as this, the interesting features of the coastline, which include waterfalls, ravines, rocky headlands and cliffs, made the coast a Heritage Coast in 1991. This exciting coastline attracts climbers and adventurers from all over the country. There are so many things to do in Exmoor, and one of the most popular attractions is Exmoor National Park which gained its status in 1954. It has a unique landscape, from moorland and woodland to valleys and farmland. The National Park is the perfect setting for mountain biking Exmoor and it has created colour coded off-road cycle maps (available from the Exmoor National Park website), from the easiest green routes to the most challenging black routes. 1 South West has produced an interactive map, which is a great starting point to plan your route. Whatever your age or level of fitness, there is something for everyone. Exmoor bike hire is cheap and readily available and there are cycling opportunities and bikes to suit all ages and abilities. Most cycle hire shops cater for families, groups, schools, disabled people and corporate events. Bikes can be rented for a few hours all the way up to a full week and there are plenty of hotels and Bed and Breakfasts that are cycle friendly. More information on bike hire and accommodation can be found on the 1 South West website. Exmoor cycling has become increasingly popular and the area has some of the best road cycling in the UK. It is home to many cycling clubs as well as the annual Exmoor Beast Cycle Challenge in which cyclists take part in either a 100 mile or 100km race. Aside from cycling, there are so many exciting activities to discover in Exmoor. Whether it’s walking through the National Park, fishing in the rivers surrounded by beautiful valleys, or horse riding along the 400 miles of bridleways, there is something for everyone in Exmoor. Be sure to check out 1 South West’s website for information on cycling, bike hire and cycle friendly accommodation. Bio 1 South West provides information on cycle UK routes, UK cycling holidays and cycling news for all, from novice riders to experienced mountain bikers. It is committed to giving visitors complete information on MTB trails.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tour Exeter on a Bike

Exeter is a hugely popular tourist destination in the UK. It is brimming with history and heritage such as the magnificent Gothic St Peter’s Cathedral and the underground medieval passages beneath the streets of the city. Other places to go in Exeter are the historic Quayside and Exe Island, as well as the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. It is also famous for its varied performances at its many theatres. For example, The Exeter Phoenix and The Exeter Corn Exchange both put on regular performances from drama and comedy to live music and dance. There is such a variety of things to do in Exeter and one of the best ways to explore is by bike. The city is extremely cycle friendly with a vast network of cycle paths and good spots for parking your bike so that everyone has the opportunity to cycle Exeter. Exeter is a Cycling Demonstration Town and the use of bikes is widely promoted and supported, so Exeter cycling has become increasingly popular over the years.Exeter bike hire is also very accessible as well as being reasonably priced. There are plenty of cycle shops and hire centres along the Exe Estuary which is easily reached by train or bus from Exeter city centre. Away from the city, one of the best places to cycle is Haldon Forest Park. A short drive from the city centre, it offers thousands of acres of woodland to explore. The Park offers some fantastic free trails and has different graded trails that suit all ages and abilities. From the green (easy) grade trails such as the Discovery Trail, suitable for novice riders through to the more difficult red grade trails such as the Ridge Ride Trail, there is something for everyone. For the more experienced cyclists who want to go mountain biking in Exeter, the woods of Haldon Forest Park, Dartmoor and Woodbury Common are excellent locations. Haldon Forest Park cycling. is popular with members of the Exeter Mountain Biking Club, which has been firmly established since 2001. The club holds various evenings including the Ladies Skills Training Session as well as the Go-Ride skills sessions for 6-11 year olds. 1 South West’s interactive Adventure Cycle Map contains over 3,000km of trails and is a great starting point to plan your route. Exeter is one of the most popular holiday destinations and cycling is the perfect way to see it.