IN THE NEWS: Will your partner find out if you’ve been on a love cheat website?

Cheating wives and husband who’ve gone online to search for a partner to flirt with – or to have an affair with – have been warned their search might not be private after all…
Yes, you can still delete the search history on the family computer. But, a report in The Sunday Times claims some sites will actually alert all your friends and family on Facebook that you have gone on the site.
The article cites Badoo.com, a dating website it claims is known for casual encounters because it encourages users to ‘chat, flirt, meet up and have fun.’
At Badoo you do not have to join – all you have to do is input your email address and Badoo will automatically inform friends you are on there.
Trainee Solicitor Will, 29, told how he was embarrassed the site told his contacts he was a member. He signed up a while ago when it was billed as the ‘new Facebook’ but then forgot about it. But recently he received a call from his girlfriend asking why he was on it – and shocked that he was.
Another person recalls how he discovered his girlfriend had joined when the site sent a automated message to his work email inviting him to join her. He then created a fake profile on the site and she began talking to him. She said she was single and gave a new phone number she had. He later confronted her…
The Sunday Times article reveals a recent poll of 85,000 Badoo members revealed 59% had met someone they first contacted via the site and 30% admit they met for sex.
And a 2009 study ranked Badoo out of 45 social websites as the worse for privacy. It scored 23% while LinkedIn scored 70% and Facebook 53%.
The report adds Badoo profiles come up in Google searches so without signing in you can see a photo of someone who might be advertising for ‘no strings sex.’
However, one consultant who specialises in online dating says Badoo’s relaxed approach to privacy is the way social media sites are going. “One of the features of dating sites has always been privacy,” he says, “but there are advantages to people knowing who you are. The best way to meet people is through friends of friends – social dating – and that is what Badoo is trying to emulate.”
Meanwhile, Badoo says members can adjust their privacy settings accordingly and says it is not a site promoting sexual encounters. “We are not pretending that the sexual element does not exist; we are a meeting network for adults and their interactions reflect human behaviour in real life.”

Have you ever cheated using a dating website? Or perhaps your spouse had an affair with someone he or she met on a flirting website? If you have an adultery or infidelity story to sell, let us know here: Cheating website story


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IN THE NEWS: Graduates forced to pay £100 a day to gain work experience…

First came the controversy of graduates working for firms – and doing a lot of work for them – for no payment, just to get a foot on the career ladder… Now comes the news that university leavers are so desperate for a job that they are paying companies to help them gain work experience.
Putting work experience down on your CV has become all-important – without it your chances of gaining a job are much less.
Already thousands of graduates work for free to gain a foot in the door of their chosen career – but as a report in The Sunday Times says, the decision of some to pay for their experience highlights just how competitive getting a job has become.
The article quotes one highly qualified graduate, 23, paying £60 a day to work at a media and video production company. She says: “I don’t see myself as being exploited. You need the experience – for every internship there is a huge amount of applicants.”
Her boss said: “I’m interested in people who are so keen to work in the industry that they are willing to finance themselves.”
The report also interviewed the boss of a wedding planning firm, which charges £100 a day for internships.
She says: “I have a work experience student now. I’ll pick her up and make sure she has everything she needs for the day.
“Next week we’re going out for dinner to talk about an event we’re doing and it’s extra time I could be earning money.”
Another boss agrees: “If you are paying £40,000 to get educated at university, I don’t think it is much much more to pay £60 a day to be able to say on your CV, ‘I’ve worked for a TV Production company.'”
It appears gaining an internship that you pay for is also very competitive. Many of the internships are advertised through Etsio.com, a website on which the work experience is outlined together with the fee successful applicants must pay their employer.
Explaining how their system works Etsio tells graduates: “You aren’t paying for a job. You’re buying experience and paying for training. It helps you improve your CV, makes you more attractive to an employer, and even helps you decide if you want to start your own business.”
It adds: “Major corporations take interns, because they can afford to, and mostly they pay them. But small companies simply don’t take interns. If you want work experience with the kind of small, exciting professions we deal with, we have to incentivise them to give you work experience. And that means paying them.”
Critics claim paid-for work experience gives wealthier job-seekers an unfair advantage over graduates from poorer families – who must get any work they can, such as bar work, to earn some cash.
But with the job situation as it is, it is possible this could become the norm…

Is charging people for work experience mean or understandable? We would love to hear your views below…


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TOP TIPS: Ten things to consider before blogging…

Considering setting up a blog? Do you really need a blogThese days it seems every business and individual is blogging away. But before you jump in, consider the following…

Weigh up whether you really need a blog

Blogging on your website can increase content and therefore bring more visitors to you. But many businesses survive perfectly well without a blog. Not every business lends itself to a blog – and not everyone can be bothered to do one. If the thought of blogging doesn’t inspire you, think again.

Plan what you will write about

To be successful at blogging, you need a theme and you need to be focused. You then need to be able to come up with something to write about. If you find writing difficult, or struggle over what you will write about, having a blog probably isn’t for you.

Consider if you have the time to devote to blogging

Blogging is a commitment. Most people believe you should be posting a blog at least three times a week to gain visitors – and the very minimum is once a week. Will you be able to sustain writing pieces a this rate? Nothing looks worse on a website than an abandoned blog – if you’ve abandoned yours, it is probably best to get rid of it completely.

Think where your blog will be located

You can either blog on your website – or set up a separate blog, with a link to your site. Which you choose depends very much on what you want to blog about. A blog on your website might be your best bet if your articles are all going to be related to your business and you are writing them with a professional voice. But if for example, you decide to use your blog as a platform for strong views – that might not be the sort of thing you want clients to read – your best bet might be a separate blog.

Choose the blogging platform you will use

If you don’t put your blog on your website, then you can use free platforms such as wordpress.com or blogger.com. These are great because you just sign in and off you go. They also have a mechanism that can hide your blog from search engines at first – this can be a good idea while you experiment with your writing style and get into the swing of blogging. Once you’ve got some posts, you can lift the mechanism and let the world see!

Consider how your blog will be designed

WordPress.com has a host of themes, which you can customise to a degree. But if you want it to look the same as your company website for example, you will need to invest in a web designer. At the same time you need to consider what to call your blog. Your name or company name can be used within the wordpress theme – or you can opt to use a domain name you already have or buy another one altogether. For example, there is an option on WordPress.com that allows you to do this.

Decide if your blog will just be written by you

Many people now set up a blog between them. So several people might contribute to a company blog or a group of people might set one up together. This can be a great idea as the amount of work can be spread amongst you. But if your blogging partner doesn’t pull their weight and leaves all the work to you – or is a lazy blogger and lets things slide, it can be frustrating. Another option is to have contributors writing on your site too – this can work well as long as you like what they write…

Ask yourself if you’ll want to have advertising on your blog

For many people, a blog is a way of promoting their business, books or themselves in some way. However, actually monetising your blog with paid-for advertising such as Google Ads or even paid for posts is not permitted on a platform such wordpress.com and if you allow this, your blog can be taken down. So if you want to make money from your blog by allowing ads, you will need to invest in your own bespoke blog or website. Most experts also believe you need to have hundreds of posts on your site and to be getting at least 1000 daily views on a blog before you have enough visitors to make advertising worthwhile.

Think how you will promote your blog.

If your blog is on your own website, it will simply come under the umbrella of promotion you have do for your site. But if it is separate from your site, you need to think of ways to get it known. In this case, as with a website, you might want to get it linked to a Facebook or Twitter page or have it listed on blog websites so it gains visitors that way.

Consider paying a professional blogger to blog for you.

Finally, if you’re keen to have a blog but you’re not a professional writer or simply don’t have the time, you could think about paying someone to blog for you. Many marketing companies will, for a price, take care of all your blogging requirements and can write posts so they stand the maximum chance of being ranked well in Google. They will think of ideas and also be able to promote your blog. Bear in mind however, you will still need to regularly provide them with the basic information they need to write about.

Media agent Written by journalist, media agent and blogger, Alison Smith-Squire.


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IN THE NEWS: Giant Wooden Advent Calendar launched… and you can go inside

Iconic Tower Bridge plays host to families this Christmas time with the largest interactive Victorian wooden advent calendar in the country. From December 1st, children open an advent door a day and enjoy a truly adventurous time. Each will go home with a candy cane and an adventurer’s certificate. Giant Wooden Advent Calendar launched at Tower Bridge

The way in which we celebrate Christmas today actually has its origins back in Victorian Britain. Families up and down the country began decorating Christmas trees with sweets, fruit, decorations and gifts in the mid-1800s after Queen Victoria saw how her husband, German-born Prince Albert celebrated Christmas with his family. Sumptuous feasts were enjoyed, parlour games were played, a national holiday was declared and a tradition was born.

Over 150 years later, it seems fitting that London’s most impressive Victorian structure hosts a magical Victorian-themed Christmas event throughout December. This year, Tower Bridge will unveil a giant advent calendar crafted entirely from wood. It will replicate a Victorian toy and stand an impressive two metres high and seven metres wide. The impressive structure will be located in the South Tower under the animation screen. The entire area will be decorated in a Victorian Christmas theme, and six huge Christmas trees will be decorated and placed in and around the area.

On arrival, children will be invited to pick a candy cane from a Christmas tree. One lucky child will pull out a candy cane with a magic mark on it. They will be asked to open the day’s corresponding door on the giant wooden calendar, which will unveil a traditional Christmas image. In addition to a candy cane, each child will receive an adventurer’s certificate to remind them of their festive magical moment. The calendar door will be closed again once each group has left, offering enchanting opportunities to as many other children as possible throughout the day. The advent calendar will be launched on 1st December and will remain open to visitors until 23rd December.

Along with the advent calendar, Christmas trees and plenty of traditional decorations there will also be a ‘Letter Writing Station’ where children can write to Father Christmas, then ‘post’ their letter to him in a Victorian-style post box on their way out.

This unique event will undoubtedly appeal to parents looking for somewhere different to take their children this Christmas. Steeped in history and tradition, it’ll be a far cry from the usual visit to see Santa in over-crowded shopping centres.

Standard admission prices for adults £8, children aged 5-15 £3.40, under 5s free and concessions £5.60. Joint tickets for admission to Tower Bridge and the beautifully restored Monument nearby are available at £9, £4 and £6.20. Opening times are 9.30am to 6.00pm (last admission 5.00pm). More information on family and group tickets can be found online.

Image credit: Brandon Douglas
PR by Aneela Rose PR


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Best PR journos and best PR bloggers named…

The shortlists for the Communicative Relations Awards from PR Professionals (The CRAPPs) have been announced today, with finalists in categories ranging from ‘the most likely to tell you to sling your hook’ to the ‘least twattish Twitterer – the must-follow journo’. Crapps Award scheme for journalists

To celebrate the relationship between journalists, bloggers and PRs, http://www.theCRAPPs.com was launched by national PR agency 10 Yetis in 2010, returning again this year, in association with DWPub.

The awards have received thousands of nominations but here are the finalists in each category:

1. The journalist that makes you feel warm and furry on the inside

• Adrian Bridgwater – freelance
• Amy Duncan – Metro
• Becca Caddy – Shiny Shiny
• Hilary Osborne – The Guardian
• Jane Hamilton – The Sun
• Matt Warman – The Daily Telegraph
• Olivia Solon – Wired
• Stuart Dredge – Freelance
• Vicki Chowney – Econsultancy
• Vicky Woolaston – WebUser

2. The ‘most likely to tell you to sling your hook’ award

• Alan Burkitt-Gray – Global Telecoms Business
• Charles Arthur – The Guardian
• Fiona Harvey – The Guardian
• Gary Flood – Freelance
• Geoff Ho – Sunday Express
• Joe McGrath – Insolvency Today
• Lisa Salmon – Press Association
• Sean Poulter – Daily Mail
• Pete Swabey – Information Age
• Ruki Sayid – Daily Mirror

3. The ‘best PR blogger’ award

• Adam Vincenzini – COMMS Corner
• Ben Cotton – Social Web Thing
• Brian Solis – briansolis.com
• Drew Benvie – Drew B’s take on tech PR
• Jon Silk – PRGeek.net
• Max Tatton-Brown – MaxTB.com
• Stephen Waddington – Wadds’ PR and Social Media blog
• Steve Earl – Earlin’ PR abuse
• Stuart Bruce – stuartbruce.biz
• Will Sturgeon – The Media Blog

4. Least twattish Twitterer – the must follow journo

• Adrian Bridgwater – Freelance – @abridgwater
• Caitlin Moran – The Times – @caitlinmoran
• Fleet Street Fox – Unknown – @fleetstreetfox
• Josh Halliday – The Guardian – @joshhalliday
• Harry Wallop – The Daily Telegraph – @hwallop
• India Knight – The Sunday Times – @indiaknight
• Neal Mann – Sky News – @fieldproducer
• Olivia Solon – Wired – @olivia_solon
• Sally Whittle – Freelance – @swhittle
• Tom Wiggins – Stuff – @wiggowiggo

5. Least twattish Twitterer – the must follow PR

• Andrew Bloch – Frank PR – @andrewbloch
• Andrew Smith – Escherman – @andismit
• Beth Murray – Lansons – @bmbm
• Camilla Brown – Manifest Communications – @girlterate
• Dan Bulteel – Hill and Knowlton – @danbulteel
• Neville Hobson – Freelance – @jangles
• Rupert Walker – Immediate Future – @rupinjapan
• Sherrilynne Starkie – Strive PR – @sherrilynne
• Stephen Waddington – Speed Communications – @wadds
• Steven Davies – Freelance – @stedavies

6. Journalist you’d most like to bring to the dark side (employ as a PR)

• Amy Duncan – The Metro
• Dave Masters – The Sun
• Emma Barnett – The Daily Telegraph
• Harry Wallop – The Daily Telegraph
• Jack Schofield – Freelance
• Jane Hamilton – The Sun
• Mark Dye – Freelance
• Stuart Miles – Pocket-lint
• Tim Weber – BBC
• Verity Burns – MSN

7. Most approachable daily national newspaper

• The Daily Express
• The Daily Mail
• The Daily Mirror
• The Daily Telegraph
• The Daily Star
• The Financial Times
• The Guardian
• The Independent
• The Metro
• The Sun

Voters now have the chance to vote for their favourite per category.

Final results will be made public in time for Christmas, on Wednesday 15th December.

Rich Leigh, account director at 10 Yetis PR Agency said: “Our intention has always been to highlight the relationship between the PR industry and journalists.”

Daryl Willcox, chairman of Daryl Willcox Publishing, http://www.dwpub.com, said of his company’s involvement in the awards, “In their second year it looks like the CRAPPs have already become a bit of an institution and it’s great to see both PR professionals and journalists getting stuck in with the nominations. The next phase of voting will be great fun and I’m looking forward to discovering who the CRAPPS winners will be!”

The CRAPPs can be found on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/thecrapps


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I dressed as a chicken to promote my novel…

How do you get your novel out there? From dressing as a chicken to singing Frank Sinatra songs – MANDY BAGGOT reveals the lengths she goes to all in the name of book promotion…I dressed as a chicken to promote my novel...

BY MANDY BAGGOT

I always had a passion for writing. When I was at senior school I wrote an on-going EastEnders’ style saga featuring my school friends, various members of the Italia 1990 England football squad and New Kids on the Block. They would eagerly grab the daily four or five A4 pages to read what was happening to them next. When it eventually came to an end it was over 4,000 A4 pages long! It was a bit like an early Footballers’ Wives I guess! I was robbed!

After I left school I didn’t write that much and the bits and pieces I did write I never thought too seriously about. It was a hobby and that was all. I had my dream romance (yes they do happen!), I got married and then I had my first daughter.

After having my daughter I started to write again.

I wrote my first novel Excess All Areas, a holiday romance about a large, feisty girl called Freya and a Hollywood heartthrob. I don’t really know why, but I sent it off to Headline publishing. Their response was really positive, but ultimately they turned me down. At the time I put it down to experience (after crying for a couple of days!) and put the novel away. However, another baby later, despite advice to the contrary, another novel written (Breaking the Ice) and I stumbled upon a website called Youwriteon.com. They are funded by The Arts Council of England and were creating a scheme to get a certain number of new authors published before Christmas 2008. You had to pay £49.99 to allow your book to go on Amazon, Waterstones etc. but they would do the rest. I saw this as my chance to get my book out there. And on December 8 2008 Excess All Areas was published and showing on websites for people to buy. It was a landmark moment but I wasn’t fully satisfied. I had got the writing bug back but I knew Excess All Areas wasn’t as polished as it could be and I wanted more.

I made a decision then to keep sending manuscripts out to agents and traditional publishing houses knowing that if they all rejected me I could fall back on self-publishing. I am still agentless, but now the industry is changing that doesn’t seem such a daunting position to be in.

In 2010, when my eldest daughter was going to need mum at home for the long summer holidays, I made the decision to give up my job as a Probate paralegal at a firm of solicitors and be a full-time writer. I didn’t go into this lightly. I knew I wasn’t going to suddenly be able to create a Booker prize winner and lie back and reap the rewards, but I knew I had to concentrate on my writing if I ever wanted to make a career out of it.

In February 2011 Knowing Me Knowing You was published, again by Youwriteon.com, but it was really in preparation for launching Strings Attached in November this year, that I stepped things up a gear. I knew I had to do something to attract people to my book. I was serious about this, I wanted to make a living from it, I needed to be professional.

I found an amazing cover designer and together we came up with a fantastic cover that people love. But the cover alone wasn’t going to be enough. I needed more and it needed to be different. So, I set up a Twitter profile for the male lead. He can be found at @quinnblakemusic. It was amazing how many people responded to his tweets and enjoyed interacting with him. I also set up a blog and website tour for launch day and the two weeks after, on sites in the UK and Canada and I really pushed my novel to book review sites and bloggers. I also created a trailer for Strings Attached to increase interest and get anticipation going.

And then there are the singing videos! Yes I love to sing and perform. This year I joined a local vocal group called Raise the Roof. We are a group of all different age ranges, male and female, who sing an eclectic mix of songs from Lady Gaga to The Everly Brothers, from Take That to The Beach Boys, from Alexandra Burke to Frank Sinatra. Well, I had to make use of singing to promote my books didn’t I? So I loaded up a video of me singing Poker Face and left links to my novels. To date it has had 477 views! Not exactly viral but a lot more than I would ever have dreamed of. I don’t know whether this has directly affected sales, but it has definitely attracted interest! Around the time the video was put on Twitter The Hoff began following me! Now that is A-List!

So I sing for promotion and I dress up. This year I dressed as a chicken at The Festival of Romance in Watford, to represent my character The Love Dove who stars in my Mr and Mrs meets The Generation Game novel, Knowing Me Knowing You. I was probably the most photographed individual of the weekend and the great writer Carole Matthews was also in attendance. It’s all about the outfit Carole!

There have been other bonuses to promoting my book. I have made loads of new friends and supporters on social networking sites, through book websites and blogs and I have also joined two websites helping self-published and new authors raise their profile and connect with readers. These are Loveahappyending.com and Famous Five Plus. We work as a group to proactively support each other and our writing.

At the moment I am self-published, using a new website called FeedARead.com. I would really recommend them for anyone who wants to self-publish their novels. It costs £88 to have your book published and made available on Amazon and Waterstones etc. Presently they only deal with paperback versions so I upload my books onto Kindle myself.

So what’s next? Well, I am signing copies of Strings Attached at Waterstones Salisbury on 8 December from 5.30pm-8.30pm and I have numerous other store signings booked in for 2012. Waterstones have been extremely supportive to me as a self-published author and this year I have approached stores further afield. I just dropped them an email with a press release and had a fantastic response!

And as far as the actual writing goes, I am doing final edits for my summer 2012 release Taking Charge and have put the trailer on YouTube.

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have a great book cover, a great story and you’re singing and blogging royalty! Watch out Jackie Collins, Lady Baggot is on her way!

Mandy Baggot Mandy Baggot is the author of four novels, Excess All Areas, Breaking the Ice, Knowing Me Knowing You and her latest novel Strings Attached is out now in paperback and on Kindle. She lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire in the UK with her husband, two daughters and two cats. When she isn’t writing she likes to read, sing and travel – sometimes all at the same time!

Find out more here: Mandy Baggot’s website


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Laura gets some very good news…

Back in the summer Laura Hymas’ story about how she is fighting a brain tumour was placed with the DAILY MIRROR and later in BELLA magazine.Hope For Laura Fund Laura, 25, mum to Jacob, almost two, was devastated when doctors in the UK told her and partner Ben that the tumour was inoperable. But the couple could not believe nothing could be done and they set out to find an alternative cure.
They came across a clinic in Houston Texas pioneering new treatment – the snag was they would have to pay for the treatment themselves – and it would cost £75,000 for a year.
As well as the articles in the paper and the magazine, Ben conducted a remarkable online campaign to get Laura to this clinic. After being picked up by comedian Rufus Hound, it went viral on Twitter and Facebook with thousands of well-wishers donating to their fund.
It meant, in July, having completed six weeks of radiotherapy and some chemotherapy at Royal Marsden Hospital to slow down the growth, they were able to fly to the US.
The latest scan results now show the best news ever – Laura’s tumour has shrunk by 36% since the last scan six weeks ago.
Writing on the blog Ben says: “We are so pleased with this news.”

We are also delighted for them – we love to hear updates from interviewees – and are looking forward to more good news in future!

Read more about Laura and her battle to beat her brain tumour here: Laura’s story


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