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By Fi or Becs, Sep 26 2017 03:21PM


<Written by Becs>


Ahh The Apprentice is back next week! Hoorah for a shiny new batch of candidates in freshly bought suits, Lord Sugar's classic expressions in THE BOARDROOM (the room of dooooom!) and being able to watch this year without hiding behind a cushion and dying inside.


Whether you're an Apprentice groupie or you simply HATE the show, The Apprentice is known as the programme that people love to hate. It is sculpted (trust me - I’ve seen how they do it) to make viewers squirm, the tasks appear straightforward yet the candidates defy logic (hmmm I wonder why?) and we all sit on our sofas eating Dorritos shouting "WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING?!" every time they deliver an excruciatingly bad pitch to a 'well known supermarket'.



Twelve months after my own adventure into the crazy land of The Apprentice I am still fascinated by the love-hate relationship that people seem to have with the show.


I've genuinely had strangers recognise me from the other side of the street and dodge through MOVING traffic to tell me how much they hate the programme... before excitedly requesting a selfie. People have adamantly denied watching the 2016 series... before telling me in detail exactly what I did wrong in each episode (eh?) and a man once heckled me on a train by shouting "EY LOVE - YOU'RE FIRED!.... WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT" before politely requesting that I record a video for his daughter because she loved me on the show.


Strangely this love-hate viewing relationship with The Apprentice appears to fuel the popularity of the show, which has dropped in viewing figures but still pulls in a whopping 6 million people. In truth we love despising the candidates, we enjoy rolling our eyes at the same tasks EVERY year and we like to hate Lord Sugar. We are British and we love to hate things.


For a normal human suddenly entering the powerful machine of The Apprentice last September I was blown away by how many people recognised my face. I expected around 4/10 people to vaguely notice I that was a girl on telly but it was more like an explosion of 9/10 people asking me for selfies, grinning excitedly as I walked by, surreptitiously taking photos of me (UMM I CAN SEE YOU) and wanting to talk to me... all the time... ANYWHERE. Groups of teenagers with Snapchat were the craziest ones.


Although the prolific selfie requests have calmed down now (thank god) they have lately evolved into a bizarre conversation I experience 2 - 3 times a day when strangers declare that they know me and did I used to work at James & Son Solicitors / do my kids go to Harrowmouth Primary School / did I go to a Pacha after-party last month in Ibiza / am I a presenter on CBeebies.



Notwithstanding my power to befuddle people with my recognisable face, The Apprentice experience has been absolutely amazing for our little business Fi & Becs. Imagine a HUGE FREE ADVERT for your tiny little business on prime time television. Although I was essentially useless on the programme (cringe), I didn't come across as aggressive, back-stabbing or horrible to work with (phewf) so we have been inundated with new work. Exciting doors have opened leading to university lecturing, guest speaking and presenting jobs plus new clients have flocked to us in unexpected abundance. Boom!


Having recently met a batch of the new candidates (who are all competent, lovely and successful - do not believe what you see on TV), one of them asked if The Apprentice had changed my life. I hesitated before answering "ummm not really, I'm still a mum, I still work at home drinking too much tea whilst chatting to my sister... we're incredibly busy and I get to do some fun radio and filming stuff but otherwise... my life is exactly the same."


The Apprentice is an absolutely awesome experience... if you know exactly what you want to get out of it.


Some candidates may want fame (both Jessica and Karthik from my batch impressively went on Celebrity Big Brother!), but I wanted a huge chunk of free PR for my business. Considering our website got 13,000 hits on the week I was fired, my LinkedIn connections went bananas and we now have over 200 clients I'd say my small mission was achieved. It was also pretty cool when Lord Sugar tweeted about the copywriting work we did for Alana's winning business Ridiculously Rich! (Alana is also absolutely lovely by the way - you definitely don't need to be a twat to win The Apprentice.)

Alongside our Fi & Becs business stuff, the last 12 months have also been super fun for me as a human. I've lectured at six universities (plus becoming a regular lecturer at The University of Liverpool), become a frequent panellist on BBC Radio Manchester, adored being a Business Angel for three school enterprise projects, written columns for a local paper and recently presented for a series of exciting business films that are launching at The Business Show this November in London. Yay!


Soooo, this year I'm looking forward to watching the brave new candidates experience the public's love-hate relationship with The Apprentice. I can't wait to see them running around in London completing inane tasks set in impossible timescales by the production team. I'm grateful that I won't have to watch this series from behind a cushion but I have no doubt that I'll still be cringing and writhing in sympathy as I see the poor things set up to fail... repeatedly.


Whilst balancing a plate of Doritos on my ever-growing bump (I'm 5 months pregnant) I shall raise a glass of elderflower spritz (wine replacement) and salute the excellent machine of The Apprentice which made our last 12 months exciting, adventurous and (thankfully) successful.


The Apprentice 2017 starts on Wednesday the 4th October on BBC One. Make sure you also watch You're Fired on BBC Two afterwards as that's the BEST BIT where you get to see what the candidates are like in real life!




By Fi or Becs, Sep 15 2017 08:27AM

Ooooh what an exciting Friday... it's time to launch our brand new Fi & Becs video! If you've ever wondered what on earth we actually do... or whether Becs is really 'like a bouncing puppy' (as she described herself on The Apprentice last year) then have a watch...


We realised that it had been over 18 months since we filmed our last client testimonials so we decided to do a shiny new video... and jump in front of the camera ourselves more this time!


Hoooray - we have such wonderful clients!


A MASSIVE thank you to Zoe from Hello Halfpenny and Jem from Bodyb Wellness for letting us invade their working days (and Zoe's super cool jewellery making studio in Halifax!) with cameras and lighting.


It was a brilliantly hectic day running around Manchester, Cheshire and Halifax with the talented chaps from Into Productions (huge credit to them too for turning our inane chatter into something so great!) but it was so much fun to film!


Let us know what you think!



By Fi or Becs, Jul 3 2017 01:38PM

We did it last year... and we're doing it again... our summer shut-down is a-coming!



Here they come - the summer holidays are looming upon us with a speediness akin to a swift footed wolf. In other words… we’re about to start our SUMMER HOLIDAY SHUT-DOWN!


Apart from some ongoing projects we already have booked in, we won’t be at our laptops much from the 31st July to the 4th September whilst our kids are off school.


If any of you need us during August just pop an email over to fi@fiandbecs.com or becs@fiandbecs.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.


If you need anything doing super quickly beforehand just let us know!



By Fi or Becs, May 11 2017 08:47AM


Unsurprisingly, public speaking is one of Becs' favourite things. Whether she's the keynote speaker at a business show, guest lecturing to undergraduates or talking at an awards ceremony - she's guaranteed to be interesting, amusing and full of energy. She just likes to talk. A lot.


Because Becs loves talking SO much, we've just added her public speaking info onto our website.


Here she is prattling on about it:


I can craft a talk around your chosen topics, tell the story of my successful start-up business or focus on marketing, branding and copywriting (plus weaving in some experiences from my time on The Apprentice!) - whatever you need.


My approach is fun, engaging and honest. I believe in sharing values, inspiring people to believe in themselves and being sincere, lively and approachable.


I worked in corporate marketing teams for years so I understand the right tone for business conferences, I pitch to big brands regularly for Fi & Becs and I'm a Mum so I know how to talk to kids or students!


Some people even said nice things about her:


“What a breath of fresh air! Becs kept our students entranced with her energy, anecdotes and detailed knowledge of branding and digital marketing. Her passion for marketing and ability to capture a business’ essence through spot on branding was addictive.”


- Fiona Syson, Programme Leader of Marketing at Edge Hill University



“I really enjoyed Becs' guest lecture on Friday. She was so nice and down to earth and she is a true inspiration. She made me feel excited about finishing my degree and I'm actually looking forward to gaining a graduate scheme if I'm lucky enough. I was quite nervous and was unsure of my future but she made feel at ease and excited for my future now :-) She proved that anything is capable if you put your mind to it!"


- Lisa Newall, Marketing Undergraduate



“A super-engaging speaker with an incredibly inspiring story. Your enthusiasm really rubbed off on me and I didn't sleep much afterwards as my brain was buzzing (with ideas, not the Amaretto). Thoroughly recommended to anyone keen to learn how to make their entrepreneurial dreams happen while remaining down-to-earth and honest."


- Lucy van Biljon, attended Becs' Storytelling Masterclass



So... if you're looking for a refreshing conference speaker or someone to inspire students about business then get in touch!



By Fi or Becs, Apr 26 2017 07:59PM

Okay lovely people of the internet, we need your help! Usually in Fi & Becs land we agree on things. Our sister-based-mind-reading-powers allow us to think in unison and we exist in world of merry agreement... however WE HAVE FOUND SOMETHING WE DO NOT AGREE ON.


The item causing all the trouble is the first video in a short series we are launching called One Minute Videos. Basically, we're doing a video for each service we offer (branding, copywriting, graphic design... you get the jist) where Fi talks for 30 seconds... then Becs talks for 30 seconds.


We have recorded our first video about branding and now we can't decide whether to have the video WITH or WITHOUT music! Bah!


Fi prefers our One Minute Video on Branding with NO MUSIC...


Becs prefers our One Minute Video on Branding WITH MUSIC



Place your votes now!


Tell us which version you like better and we'll (probably) delete the rejected video from our Fi & Becs YouTube channel!


You can tell us by:


Adding your thoughts at the bottom of this page.


Commenting on the post on our Facebook page.


Tweeting Fi


Tweeting Becs


Or you can email us on chatter@fiandbecs.com


Thank you to the awesome Lewis Robinson for letting us borrow his music for the video! Just to point out, Fi does actually love Lewis' music, she just isn't sure about having any on the videos at all!



By Fi or Becs, Apr 23 2017 08:00AM



Chatter from Becs:


When I was a teenager I used to draw cartoons all the time. I was one of those people who wrote a daily diary (SO awesome yet hugely cringeworthy to flick through now that I'm a grown up) and I would always mark the day out of ten (yep!) and draw a cartoon about what had happened.


Now that I'm 32 I've decided to start doing cartoons again about the stuff that is in my head... I do get a lot of stuff in my head.


So, here is the first one - it's about public speaking. I've been doing loads of public speaking lately (things like conferences, business shows, lectures, black tie events etc.) and this is my tip for getting rid of those evil tummy butterflies that you might experience. (I used this trick on The Apprentice too and it TOTALLY worked.)


If you have to speak in front of people and you get those nasty, worried, anxious, stomach churning, vomit inducing nerves... just think solidly about something that you love. Really concentrate on the happy-love-feelings and ignore the doom laden ones. It's amazing how the happy-love-feelings can cancel out the evil butterflies and turn them into something positive and useful. It's a bit like consuming mouthfuls of love-based Gaviscon to cure your evil butterfly heartburn.


My thing is to think about my little boy. I concentrate on thoughts about his swimming lessons or daydream about us playing in the garden... surprisingly that stops me feeling nervous in front of 300 strangers. Hoorah.


Good luck banishing the evil butterflies!


By Fi or Becs, Feb 16 2017 10:00AM

The lovely Nottingham University (where Becs went to uni!) asked her to put together a video about how to get into marketing with an arts degree... so here it is!



Here is the transcript for the video... in case you prefer to read it!


Tip one: Consistently create content


One of the best things you can do whilst you're at university is to show that you can consistently create content. Content could be a blog that you've written for the last two years about how you love walking, it could be an Instagram account, it could be Twitter or Snapchat... it could even be YouTube videos. If you can show that you have original thoughts, you have ideas and you are creative (whether that's with photography, video or writing) that will actually really appeal to an employer because it shows that you can stick at something.


Tip two: Get business experience


If you want to work in marketing you don't actually have to go straight into working in marketing when you graduate, it's more important that you get business experience. My first role was actually in an HR department where I looked after internal recruitment for a B2B telecoms company. A lot of my role was writing job descriptions, writing adverts, looking after the employer brand and working out how that was attracting candidates. There is a real crossover between HR teams and marketing teams when you think about things like internal communications. So... don't just think about marketing, think about how you can get business experience and how you can USE that business experience to get you to your end goal... which is working in marketing (obviously).


Tip three: Use your interests to build a portfolio of work


If you're part of a society at university, think about how you can USE that society to give you examples to go into a portfolio of work. Whether you're part of a sports society or the radio station, think about how you could design their posters to go into your graphic design portfolio. You could run their social media accounts to show how you can build a following or to promote a particular event. Or maybe even think about their photography or how you could put together some videos to give an example on YouTube of what your society does. All of those things show employers that you have practical skills that you would be able to use if you had a role in marketing... and I imagine your society would be quite pleased about it as well!


Tip four: You can still apply to graduate schemes after a couple of years


If you really want to get on to a graduate scheme to do marketing, remember that you don't actually have to apply to schemes the second that you graduate. You can actually apply to them after a couple of years once you have some experience under your belt. That's exactly what I did, I worked for 18 months and then I applied to the graduate scheme at The Co-operative Group. It means that while you're working you're getting business experience, you're learning email etiquette, you're learning about how businesses work and it gives you a better chance of actually getting a graduate scheme that you really want... because you've got experience but also because you have a better idea of what career path you want to do.



Tip five: Show loads of enthusiasm


Show loads and loads of enthusiasm. Whether you're going for a job interview, you're writing a cover letter or you're at an assessment centre, show that you have ideas, show your creativity, show that you're enthusiastic, show that you're inventive - all of those things are brilliant in marketing teams. Have ideas and just try it as you never know what's going to work and you never know what could become the next brilliant campaign.



By Fi or Becs, Feb 2 2017 10:00AM



Chatter from Becs:


When I was a kid I adored visits to Maryport. Growing up in Asby (a tiny hamlet near Lamplugh) I thought my Nan’s house in Maryport was the bees-knees. We could WALK into town to do some shopping, I could rollerblade along the endless pavements and Allonby was only 10 minutes away for ice-cream and paddling in the Solway Firth. To my seven-year-old self, Maryport was a huge place.


Once I got older and I ventured further afield, I realised that Maryport was actually pretty small compared to cities like Manchester. When I found myself in The Apprentice house last year with a chap who actually manufactured his sausages in Maryport I was pretty flabbergasted! The world really is a small place.


Oliver Nohl-Oser, or ‘Sausage Man’ as the press affectionately nicknamed him, grew up near Penrith. His company The Cumbrian Sausage Company has been producing sausages in Maryport since 2009. Bonding over our Cumbrian connection, our preference for sausages served with chips and egg (NOT mash and gravy) and the immensely random coincidence that we both own sausage dogs (!) – Oliver and I became firm friends. When he suggested that I visited him in Maryport to see his sausage manufacturing in progress I was FRANKLY delighted (get it?).


So, last week my thirty-two-year-old self was back in Maryport to learn about Cumberland sausages from Oliver the Sausage Man. I was educated about all things sausage related (did you know that Traditional Cumberland Sausage HAS to be made in Cumbria? It is the UK’s 44th protected food product under EU law!), then we popped to my parent’s house in Seaton for a cuppa and some of Ollie’s delicious sausages for tea (of course). It just goes to show that Maryport actually IS the bees-knees, particularly from a superior sausage point of view – my Nan would have definitely approved.



By Fi or Becs, Jan 25 2017 03:24PM

In December last year Becs got an exciting email from a chap called Tim Scott.


Tim and his partner Gemma are super clever HR professionals who have written a series of books aimed at helping people with social media - the kind of thing that we LOVE.


Becs had met Tim at a CommsHero* event last year (where he did a brilliant presentation about social media and HR working together) so she was delighted when Tim emailed asking her to take part in a new #SocialLeaders series alongside the launch of their third book: 'Putting Social Media To Work 3.0 - For The Busy Executive'.


So... on a chilly January day armed with tea and Skype (obvs) Becs and Tim had a chatter all about social media. Becs merrily rabbited on about our social media channels of choice, things that have worked for us and some of our tips and hints for using social media successfully.


Luckily Tim has edited Becs' #SocialLeaders interview into a nice succinct video (in which she moves her hands A LOT) which you can watch here:



Becs even got a mention in Tim and Gemma's book - how exciting!


Here's what the book said about Becs:


"We have to confess that neither of us are avid watchers of the BBC's The Apprentice but we met 2016 contestant Becs IRL at a #CommsHero event and had to find out more. We were really impressed with how she has incorporated social into her business and love her fresh, honest and natural approach to running her own account. Expect lots of pictures (especially selfies), working out loud and hashtags."


---> hehehe we love it!



Here's what Tim and Gemma say about their series of books:


"We wrote the first book in the series ‘Putting Social Media to Work: A Practical Guide’ in 2015 because we felt that some of our fellow HR professionals needed help to learn how to get social and to be able to help their organisations do the same. In HR circles, there has traditionally been a lot of negativity about social media but, in our view, digital and social technology is only going to grow – and so therefore will the gap between those who have these skills and those who do not.


We found that the book was being shared with other people who were facing the same challenges - people that, for the most part, were either running small businesses or leading larger ones. They told us that they knew they ought to be on social, but they didn’t know how to, or what to say, or how to find the time, so we developed a version just for small business people and then added a third book for leaders and senior executives. All of our books are about practicality, offering suggestions, tips, a straightforward guide to the jargon and busting some of the myths. We have both benefited hugely from using social media personally and professionally and we want to encourage others to share stuff, be themselves on social media and dive in!"


Find out more on their website: putsocialtowork.com



*We felt the need to point out that CommsHero is epic. That is all.




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