Local Store Marketing: “Be” The News!

What person knows the most about what is happening at your store? You!

It is your responsibility to create news about your store – don’t wait for others to do this for you. Being proactive with the local newspapers to generate news coverage on your store is an excellent way to get third-party endorsement. Many of the editors – and in particular, the beat reporters – are constantly looking for news stories on area businesses. It’s up to you to entice them. Feeding them with ongoing news and information regarding your store helps establish a relationship that they will appreciate.

Positive relationships with the media not only keep you top-of-mind with newspaper writers and the community, but also creates a bond in the event you need to mitigate any negative situation regarding your store in the future. Get to know your local newspaper editors, beat writers, DJs, newscasters, etc. so that you can continually feed them with news items regarding employee promotions, product and service launches, and other key newsworthy tidbits about your store.

While this may not translate into immediate sales, it can reduce your ad expenditures. Establishing a positive, proactive relationship with the local media will enhance the chance that they run news items about your store at no cost to you. This type of news is well-received by the public and keeps your store relevant in the community. For every mention that you receive in the local media, that’s one less ad that needs to placed.

Plan on creating one news item per quarter at a minimum that you can send to all of the media. These news items can range from announcing a new product launch or service – or it can be a smaller news story, such as a new store manager announcement.

Create Your Media Contact List: Identify all of the smaller daily and weekly papers that service your 3-mile trade area, as well as local radio stations, magazines, and TV stations. Make it a point to visit each of these media outlets and introduce yourself and your store to them for future reference. Bring a free sample and information on your brand; your contact information; and your store. Establishing a relationship in advance of a need is a terrific way to stay top-of-mind with the local media. This will serve you in getting positive news into the paper and perhaps avoid negative news printed if that should ever occur.

Make Your Employees Star-Worthy: Our employees often were raised in the communities in which they work. As they begin to progress through their careers, peer recognition can be more important than monetary gains. If an employee was recently promoted at your business, why not announce this growth to the community with a one-paragraph press release? The employee feels recognized, their family feels proud and your business is held in high-esteem in the community for “promoting one of their own.” It is a pretty simple way to accomplish goals on many fronts.

Celebrate Mile Posts: When is your anniversary? You probably had to think about that for a bit before you added up the years that you have been in business. Imagine how difficult it would be for others to know how long you have been in business. It is entirely on you to remind and announce customers of key mileposts in your business. These mile posts help add credibility to your place of business by blurting “we are still in business!!”

Be A Good Community Citizen: Pick a charity and create events to generate awareness and/or funds for that local charity at your business and promote this through the media. The media is often the mouthpiece for the community and they like nothing better than having a “feel good” story about a local charity tie-in at a business. Create a photo-op at your business to jump start the charity event and at the end when you present a check to the organization. The charity wins, your business gets foot traffic and the media has a nice story to counter the negative stories that they often publish.

Create A “Call-to-Action”: Every one loves a deal and writing a news story tying in a promotion at your store – especially if it is a charity or mile post – will garner a look from the local media. Be succinct in message and avoid being to “advertising-like”, but rather create more of a public service announcement for better results. The media may pick up your announcement if it is a slow news day as a way of “filling content”. The more credibility you establish with the media in advance, the greater chance of your material being printed.

It is surprising how few small businesses spend the time to cultivate media relationships. The media is constantly on the lookout for news and having a pipeline of sources only makes their jobs easier. In most cases, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil and a steady stream of news from your business will establish this pipeline for the media.

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Five Things an Employer Needs to Know About Employment Law

It is an unavoidable demand of running any business that an employer must have a good knowledge of employment law whether they are self employed and/or employ other staff. They should have an awareness of the rights of the employee, the employer themselves and where each party stands in the unfortunate event that the normal working relationship breaks down. This article addresses the five key areas that employers and HR departments need to consider when dealing with employment law in the UK.1. How You Define Employees and EmployersIt is important, before delving into the intricacies of employment law to have a clear idea of the parties that are involved and how their roles should be defined.Employed vs Self Employed: This distinction can be less apparent than you may think. If a worker has agreed to provide a service/work under contract for an organisation then they will be a worker employed by that organisation unless the organisation is actually employing the services of that individual’s business, in which case the worker is self-employed and thus not a direct employee of the organisation. An example of such a scenario would be a contractor who offers his services to an employer via his own business rather than agree a direct contract of employment himself.
Part Time vs Full time: This is a heavily contextualised concept as the hours a full time employee works in one organisation could be the same as the hours worked by a part time employee in another. Once an organisation has set the hours that a full time employee is expected to work, a part time employee is defined as a worker employed on the same contractual basis but for reduced hours. The key thing to remember here is that part time employees should not be treated any less favourably in comparison to their full time counterparts purely because of the difference in hours that they work, unless their hours are a justifiable factor in the decision process. For example, pay should always be awarded on a pro-rata basis for part time workers in comparison to an equivalent full time role. Employees have the right to challenge and demand written explanations if they think that they are being treated differently on this basis alone.
Temporary vs Permanent: This distinction depends upon the contract of employment which we will discuss later on. The temporary or fixed term worker will have a contract which agrees their employment for a fixed period of time as opposed to an ongoing permanent relationship. As with part time workers, temporary workers must not be treated any differently to their permanent counterparts purely on the basis that they are on fixed term contracts.2. Statutory RightsThese are the rules that govern and provide the framework for how you will need to deal with your staff from the start of the recruitment process to the cessation of the contract of employment. They cover not only the definitions of employment types mentioned above but every other area of individuals’ rights in the work place. They are too broad and detailed to discuss in their entirety here but, in summary, include:PayMinimum Pay – Rates for over 16s, varying for different age groups
Equal Pay – Contracts for women employees must include the same pay and benefits as that of a man in an equivalent role
Pay Slips – To be itemised and provided before or on the date of pay
Discrimination – Employees must not be discriminated against based upon “protected characteristics” such as age and sex. Provisions must be in place for disabled workers
Equality Act 2010 – Employers do have the right to choose between two candidates of equal ability on such a characteristic if it is under-represented amongst their staffWorking HoursMaximum Working Week – 48 hours, regular breaks etc. Opt outs can be agreed but not demanded
Flexible Working – Parents of children up to 18 years old have a right to apply to changes to their hours and work location which an employer can only refuse if specific circumstances are met
Parental Leave
Maternity Leave – 26 weeks ordinary and 26 weeks additional entitlement
Paternity Leave – 2 weeks entitlement with additional 26 weeks when mothers return to workAbsenceSickness – Statutory sick pay entitlement etc
Compassionate Leave – Employees have a right to time off (but not pay) if they have illness or death in the immediate familyWhistleblowing – Protection for some disclosures in specific circumstances which would otherwise breach the employee’s contract.Workplace Health & Safety (see below)Redundancy – When an employee’s role is no longer required.Statutory Pay
Notice Period
Relocation OpportunitiesTUPE – Conditions of employment must be transferred in the event of a take over.Pensions – Most employers must offer employees a stakeholder pension provision.Dismissal & DisciplinaryUnfair Dismissal – The employer must have a fair reason (e.g., employee conduct) to dismiss an employee with 1 years employment and must follow a fair dismissal procedure. Some reasons for dismissal will qualify to be considered as automatic unfair dismissals such as union action, time off for parenting etc
Wrongful Dismissal – Notice must be given by all parties (unless a fixed term contract is lapsing) as set out in common law
Constructive Dismissal – If an employer breaks the terms of a contract and consequently forces an employee’s dismissalRetirement – The Default Retirement Age is ultimately due to be scrapped by Oct 2011 although there are certain measures already in place to reach this end (Retirement is therefore no longer a fair reason for dismissal).One of the most essential things to remember with statutory rights is that they are regularly changing. As an employer or HR worker you must remain familiar with the latest developments.3. The ContractPerhaps the most important element of any employer-employee relationship is the contract of employment. All parties will have certain statutory rights as mentioned above but the finer details and practicalities of the relationship will be contained in the employment contract. The contract will determine the procedures to follow in the event of staff under-performance or disciplinary proceedings, any employee benefits and concessions above and beyond their statutory entitlements (e.g., maternity leave, compassionate leave) and ultimately the conditions and processes of releasing staff either through dismissal, redundancy or resignation.4. Trade UnionsIf you are an employer of more than 21 individuals you may be approached by a trade union seeking recognition from your organisation. The Trade Union needs to show that it has a 10% representation in your workforce and that those members wish your organisation to acknowledge it. You will have 10 days to respond to the request otherwise you will have effectively rejected the approach. In the event of rejection the Trade Union can apply to Central Arbitration Committee to force you to accept their approach for recognition. Once a Trade Union has been recognised, an employee is entitled to take part in industrial action organised by the union (for a period of up to eight weeks) if the industrial action was called for by an official Trade Union ballot. Any dismissals resulting from this action would automatically qualify for unfair dismissal.5. Health And SafetyAn employer is obliged by common law to provide a safe working environment and to ensure that their workers are fully competent in the roles they are filling. However employers are also bound by statutory requirements which reinforce these obligations and the fact that all employees must, at all times, be fully capable, be trained in the safety procedures that they must follow and be aware of the Health & Safety Act 1974.To this end employers are also required to perform regular assessments of the risk in the workplace, not only to their own employees but any other individuals who may be affected. Employers of at least five members of staff must document these assessments and are in addition required to produce a documented health and safety policy which is communicated to all members of staff.There are many more requirements that an employer must be aware of to fulfill these objectives and specific additional regulations which apply to particular industries and workplaces.As you can see employment law is a very broad and nuanced topic and it takes a fair amount of effort and time to become familiar with it. Therefore, if you are in doubt, or you need guidance on a specific circumstance you should seek advice from a qualified employment law specialist, such as Employment Solicitors Basingstoke to make sure you take the easiest and most economical path to a resolution.

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The White House Easter Egg Roll Promotes Health and Fitness

President Rutherford B. Hayes officially opened up the White House grounds to local children for egg rolling on the Monday after Easter Sunday in 1878. It has become a tradition, and each year the White House hosts an Easter Egg Roll for children and their families. It’s not always a smoothly run event, and bad experiences may result. However, there is no denying that it is a once in a lifetime event for most participants, and nearly everyone who attends feels fortunate to be there.The event is held on the South Lawn of the White House, and the grounds are open for the day with each group entering for a two hour period. “Ready, Set, Go” was the theme for the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll held on Monday, April 5. The annual event was geared to promote health and wellness among families. All the activities provided to each group featured storytelling, live music, sports courts, cooking stations, and Easter Egg rolling. The activities were meant to encourage children to live active, healthy lives. The First Lady, Michelle Obama’s, “Let’s Move! Initiative,” which is a national campaign to combat childhood obesity which has become a major problem in the nation, was stressed. Hundreds of volunteers helped to run the event throughout the day.Tickets for the White House Easter Egg Roll were free of charge and were distributed through an online lottery system with applications being submitted more than a month ahead. Tickets were required for each person, including infants. Each party is required to have at least one child who is twelve years of age or younger. Many who try do not receive tickets.Real eggs were colorfully decorated and provided for the Easter Egg Rolling. Children and parents were cautioned that they should NOT eat the hard boiled eggs. A commemorative decorated wooden egg was presented to each child. The beautifully crafted eggs, which include the signature of the President and the First Lady, were made available for sale at the National Park Foundation website.All attendees were required to go through the security screening process. As with regular tours to the White House, prohibited items included food and beverage, duffle bags, suitcases, backpacks, smoking materials, weapons, fireworks, aerosols, and animals except guide dogs. Purses, cameras, cell phones, strollers, diaper bags, baby formula, and baby bottles were permitted. Of course, everyone wanted to take photos of the event so there were lots of cameras.The annual White House Easter Egg Roll is a popular event to which a lucky few are chosen to attend. This year children came home with whole beets complete with the leaves and a little dirt. They had cups of dirt with planted seeds. They had apples and tangerines. They heard a story read by Reese Witherspoon, the Academy Award winning actress who played June Carter Cash, wife of Johnny Cash, in the movie, Walk the Line, or other celebrities. They saw live entertainment and actively participated in various sports. The two hours on the White House grounds were enjoyable.Some people had the pleasure of seeing the President and First Lady who did show up for some portion of the Easter Egg Roll festivities. It was an experience which the participants will long remember with fondness. Plan ahead if you want to try and get into next year’s Easter Egg Roll.

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