All publicity isn’t good publicity, even Come Dine with Me!

There are many common phrases used that aren’t necessarily true, which I have definitely learnt over the past 12 months; mainly that not all publicity is good publicity.

From an early age and throughout my career I have always been a planner and goal setter in everything I do, from education and sport, into my personal life and working career. My main goal for 2021 was very much to increase my personal brand and visibility to my network and wider afield.

Going into 2021 I was delighted to join forces with friend and business partner Mike Foster to grow The Oxford Business Community Network, an organization that I had been a member of for several years and then launch The Business Brunch with Ben & Mike on Get Radio. It has been so incredibly rewarding to support so many local businesses and indeed charities in a small way, whether that be via referrals, business support or free promotion.

Our recruitment business, Thompson & Terry Recruitment has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 months. I am so proud of how we have completely stuck to our company values, of going above and beyond to support the community around us throughout a challenging time for the world. Despite the absolute shortage of candidates within the Oxfordshire market, we have managed to keep our success rate from the first CV to c.80% (national average of c.5%).

So, what is this blog about, and why in my opinion isn’t the phrase all publicity is good publicly true? One Thursday morning I was called by the company producing Channel 4’s program Come Dine with Me (I had previously gone through the interview process), asking if I could be on the show for the next two days within an hour, which I quickly agreed to.

Being totally honest, driving over to the house I was so excited, as I absolutely LOVE cooking, really enjoy dinner parties and as a planner I was sure this absolutely fitted into my goal of increasing my personal brand perfectly, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For those who know me, will know I can absolutely be a little dramatic at times (definitely one of my favorite subjects at school), but ethics is so important to me and actually throughout the application process, I had been very firm that I will happily play to the camera a little but I have businesses and staff to protect.

From the moment I arrived it was so clear the crew had no interest in anything other than drama, and livening up a week where the fellow hosts had already become such good friends. It would be wrong for me to go into details but, let’s just say it was easily the worst experience of my working career, which probably wasn’t helped by being locked in a car for an hour directly before the first evening during the heatwave, to avoid other guests seeing me apparently.

Over the past few months before the episodes had been aired, I had absolutely been dreading the backlash and tried to keep it from clients, in fear of that backlash. Other than a few trolls, one lady in particular who has created 30 posts about me, I’ve been absolutely shocked by the kindness and support of my friends, my team and indeed our loyal clients.

Looking back, the gift has definitely been the lessons that I have learnt; Yes, I remain ambitious to grow my businesses and indeed my personal brand, but not to be selected for ‘celebrity’ Big Brother (joke!), but to make a positive impact in the community around me. By seeing the kindness from that community, following quite frankly an hour of cringe on Channel 4, I’ve realised I already have the reputation that I was working towards.

Thank you for reading, and PS: Despite the above, I’d highly recommend not watching the two episodes on catch up!