Christmas spending habits revealed by HotVouchers.com

Brits proudly planning to be thrifty this Christmas

Survey reveals 74% will use any means possible to save money this yuletide

One in six Brits will only buy Christmas presents which are on special offer or discounted, a study by HotVouchers.com reveals today. Researchers found three quarters have no shame using any means possible to save money this Christmas and millions have already taken advantage of Spring sales to stock up on gifts and necessities ahead of the festive period.

Food and alcohol tops the list of goods which are being snapped up at bargain prices from store shelves, followed by electrical goods and gadgets, clothes and kids’ toys.

The survey quizzed 5,000 Brits aged between 18 and 65 on their Christmas spending habits, and found:

– Two thirds will buy discounted presents

– One in five said they will haggle with sales staff in order to bring costs down, while 44 per cent wittingly started their shopping spree in June to spread the cost over several months

– The average Brit will typically spend five hours browsing the internet for deals and traipse 13 miles on the high street for pressies

– Shockingly, 29 per cent said they intend placing their Christmas spends on credit cards, and reckon it will be at least mid-February before they’ll pay it off

– A quarter are willing to risk disappointment and plan on buying presents last minute to save as much money as they can – with three in ten leaving it until 20 December to start their shop

– With 35 per cent saying they have too many to buy for, the average Brit will buy presents for at least six family members and fork out £25 each time

– One in six will also treat work colleagues to pressies – splashing out £36 on three employees on average

– Half will purchase at least four gifts for friends, neighbours and even kids’ school pals – totalling £62

Yesterday Paula Felstead of HotVouchers.com said:  “It’s great that people are proud to save money this Christmas and are realising it’s perfectly acceptable to be frugal during the festive season. As we all continue to feel the pinch, consumers are becoming more savvy, spending on average, at least five hours online hunting for the best deals and planning their shopping trips with military precision to maximise their savings.

“Retailers are reacting to this trend and we’re seeing some incredible offers both online and on the high street this Christmas. It’s not just the supermarkets who are discounting, some luxury brands are also jumping on the discount-code-bandwagon and there are some great offers to be found with the likes of Liberty, Radley and Laura Ashley.”

The survey also revealed that one in six said they WEREN’T looking forward to Christmas – with more than half (55 per cent) dreading the cost of it all, while four in ten get annoyed with the hype and a third hate the stress. One in five aren’t looking forward to being in close proximity with their family for so long, 36 per cent are stuck with what to buy people and one in ten are anxious about all the cooking.

Paula continues, “This is the busiest time of year for HotVouchers.com. We work hard searching for the best deals, making sure that the voucher codes and deals actually work, so our users know they can actually achieve savings on their purchases. We also list details of all the current high street sales to help people plan their Christmas shopping expedition in advance.”

HotVouchers.com is one of the leading UK money saving voucher sites. All vouchers and discounts are 100% free and genuine.

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For further information:

For all press enquiries relating to HotVouchers.com and interview requests, please contact Lesley Singleton at LS Media Ltd on 01234 752 663 / 07852 451 093 / Lesley@LSMedia.co.uk

Research was carried out by OnePoll during November 2010. 5000 UK adults over the age of 18 were surveyed.

PR advice from national press journalists

It’s often the case that smaller businesses feel they can’t afford professional PR support and so I often find myself offering counsel, whether it be helping them identify their news angle, proofing their press release or sourcing media contacts. I talk to them about the importance of knowing who you’re speaking to, of understanding what it is that journalists want and the practicalities of pitching their stories.

With this in mind, today I came across this great blog post by Harriet Crosse, Director at 72Point and OnePoll, both companies I’ve worked with in the past for a number of projects. She’s recently spoken to various editorial level national newspaper staff about PR and asked: “As an editor on a national news publication, what are your thoughts on press release emails and what tips would you give to PRs looking to achieve national coverage?” . I wanted to share the responses here as I really think the sentiments would be useful to anyone embarking on their own PR campaign and hoping to generate national exposure. The responses below are from Chris Pharo (The Sun), Jane Hamilton (The Sun), James Day (Metro), Andy Bloxham (Daily Telegraph) and James Scott (Sunday Mirror):

Chris Pharo. Head of News. The Sun:

“We are bombarded with badly written press release emails all day. It is about time PR people spent a bit longer reading the newspapers to try and get more of a grip on what sort of stories we run on a daily basis. We are often called just before conference, a time when myself and everyone else on the desk has much bigger fish to fry”

 

Jane Hamilton. Consumer Editor. The Sun:

Do…

• Sum up the story in the subject line.

• Send ideas early – not at gone 11am when it is too late for conference.

• Know the publication, which days it has certain sections etc

• Enjoy the job, try hard and be more creative. Journalists love really good PRs as you help us come up with great stories – but there are not enough truly excellent PRs around.

Don’t…

• Send a completely irrelevant idea – think whether you can honestly see it in that publication first.

• Send huge attachments or press releases in a word document. We don’t have time to open them up – just put the details in the email.

• Never ever send a press release as a PDF as we cannot cut and paste from it.

• Ring and ask if we got the press release. If it hasn’t bounced back to you then we have. We will contact you if you like it. I have over 40 calls a day from PRs asking if I’ve received the release which can take up to an hour of my time.

• Do boring surveys and call them ‘quirky’. We know supermarkets sell a lot of BBQs in the summer – that is not news.

• Just send statistics – think of the story behind it. Why have sales gone up, what does it mean, is it a new trend or celeb-led?

 

James Day. In Focus Editor. Metro:

“While I appreciate PRs have a very stressful job role and are expected to get results, trying to hoodwink journalists with lazy tactics such as entitling releases as ‘breaking news’ is neither original, inspired or in any way inventive. Honesty is always the best policy and if what you are trying to plug is strong enough or of interest we will take notice and give it the coverage it deserves. If we’ve not spoken before don’t act like you’re my best friend or make jokes about the weather. Keep things tight and professional and direct it personally. Do your research and make sure what you’re sending is relevant to the publication and warrants coverage in a particular section. Finally, calling my landline, mobile, landline, mobile then landline again in quick succession won’t make me want to pick up the phone any quicker. I’m probably busy, so please leave me a message or send me an email. We do pick them up and more regularly than you would imagine.”

 

Andy Bloxham. Night Editor. Daily Telegraph

“I would advise PR people to call first and say something like ‘I am calling with a story for tomorrow’s paper’ – not “Hello, My name is Shanice from TinPot PR” or whatever. Please get to the point. Also it’s better if you don’t try and explain to me what your client wants the story to say as I’m not interested in that. Give me a good intro or a nice fact which will make a headline. You have to remember I am not interested in products, I am interested in stories.”

 

James Scott. Deputy Editor. Sunday Mirror:

“As a Sunday paper journalist, it amazes me how many PRs call up with press releases that have already been to the Daily papers and failed to get in. My first question is: If it wasn’t good enough for them, why is it good enough for us? If you want to target the Sundays make it specific to us by understanding who we are and who our target market is. Don’t recycle releases.”

 

Read Harriet’s blog here.

Mouth Cancer Awareness Week 14-20 November 2010

Survivor’s book supports Mouth Cancer Awareness Week through an inspiring account of diagnosis, treatment and recovery

Michael Douglas’ recent diagnosis with throat cancer has put oral and head cancers at the top of the news agenda. Fellow sufferer Keith Hern, who has beaten throat cancer twice, knows all too well what the actor could be going through, both mentally and physically in his treatment.

Keith’s book, Bangers & Mash, is a first hand account of his journey through diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and eventual recovery, in prose and photographs.

A professional photographer, Keith documented every aspect of his treatment and won the co-operation and support of the many medical professionals helping him, with his determination to create an honest and detailed memoir that could help and inspire fellow cancer patients like Michael Douglas.

All was going well in Keith’s life “until I found a small lump on the side of my neck, and after various tests I was sent into hospital to see a consultant to be told those three words that changed my life – ‘you have cancer.’” He underwent operations and treatment and used NLP practices to help him think positively, so he could handle his diagnosis with the disease better and cope with the process of curing it.

Mouth Cancer Awareness Week is all about raising awareness of throat, mouth and head cancers and making sure sufferers are alert to the symptoms so they can be treated early. Keith adds, “I asked my surgeon what would have happened if I hadn’t found the lump when I did. He said that in just months I would have ended up with a lump the size of a golf ball on my neck. Simply, I wouldn’t have survived.”

In Bangers & Mash, Keith relates frankly and touchingly how he felt at every stage of his diagnosis and treatment and gives details of exactly what happened in hospital and the practical effects of the disease and treatment. The book has won acclaim from grateful cancer sufferers facing a frightening journey into the unknown, and been hailed as an inspiring and comprehensive handbook to coping with – and surviving – cancer. It’s also been an invaluable resource for carers and relatives. Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, whose first husband John Diamond died of oral cancer, commented, “I admire Keith Hern’s spirit and honesty.”

According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, patients are often “overwhelmed with information (some credible, some not) that is often not in the context of their individual needs. There is a need to help people sift through the information available, to understand how it applies to their individual situations.” As a first-hand account, Keith’s book supports this aim, detailing his experience exactly as it happened, complete with photographs of treatment and the changes he went through physically.

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Bangers & Mash (published by MX Publishing, ISBN 978 1 904312772) is available to buy in print or as a Kindle ebook on amazon.co.uk

Keith Hern’s website is at http://www.throatcancersurvivor.co.uk

To find out more about Mouth Cancer Awareness Week, visit The Mouth Cancer Foundation