Make your Christmas Party the best yet!

nautical-christmas-cards-659-new-embossed-by-pumpernickel-press-1Christmas is the perfect time to get the team together to celebrate achievements and say thank you for all the effort and input through the year.  Now Mackerel Sky has opened the doors for businesses and organisations to pick their brains to get ideas and support for their Christmas events.

Starting with developing the ideas, the service offers support in sourcing venues, entertainment, catering and all the elements you need for a fantastic festive event.  The team can also help on the day if needed and ensure that everything is dealt with, taking the stress out of it all and enabling everyone to enjoy themselves.

Aside from alleviating the additional workload that the Christmas party can require, the team will ensure that the event is run properly with risks managed and problems solved.

Claire Eason-Bassett, Executive Producer at Mackerel Sky Events, said: “We recognised that organising the Christmas party can be a real pressure and we often get asked to help informally so launching this festive support service was a natural next step.  The responsibilities of party organisers, legal and otherwise, can be significant and we can help to manage that risk and enable everyone to have a great time!”.


For more details on the services, go to


For more information, pictures and interviews, please contact Holly Patton, 01872 888089,

Bite the Bullet

lionMy brother in law rescued a drowning girl a few weeks ago from some river rapids (and I am so proud of him by the way!) but his actions made me think about courage and bravery. People who are fighting to overcome illness or circumstance are courageous. People who help others in dire emergencies are heroes. Someone overcoming a personal challenge is brave (irrespective of scale). If something is difficult, if it has impact on others, if it is unknown, then it requires courage to undertake. Yes?

And I would argue that creativity and business also require bravery and courage. When we create something, we are putting our artistic endeavours in the public domain and this makes us vulnerable. As with setting up a new business, we are opening ourselves to great opportunity and also to great risk. We might fail. We might be criticised. We might succeed beyond our wildest dreams!

Risk is always relative and what is challenging for me would be different for you. When we started Event Cornwall and took on our first employee, I was petrified. How would we cope? And now the pressure was on because our brand new staff member had a mortgage….it was no longer a hobby but a proper business and now I had even more responsibility to ensure that the risks we were taking as a business weren’t too risky!

There have been hundreds of thousands of risks that we have taken since and some are easy risks to take because we are familiar with them and others have been life-changingly big! It can be very difficult to manage these kinds of risks and one can never calculate the full potential impact of any one decision but we can be brave and we can trust our gut instinct. As a general rule, we are not making decisions or taking risks that are of the magnitude of saving lives but that should not diminish their importance.

Being human requires risk. Being in business requires bravery. Being creative requires courage.

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky Events

The trade fair is dead. Discuss.

tradestandsI have attended a lot of trade fairs, and run a few, and they generally consist of exhibition stands, ranging from 2x1m to 20x20m in one or many spaces, often with shellscheme to clearly divide each space. Businesses or traders pay for the space as a means to sell products and/or promote their brand. There are often networking or seminar sessions as well to add more value.  There is a complex balance between space available, number of traders/exhibitors and the price per stand to make it financially viable.

There are two main problems:

– it’s not just the cost of the stand but also the materials, the giveaways and the staff time that means making the most of the opportunity racks up a significant budget requirement

– competitors can attend and gain all the same benefits of networking and promoting their brand for the cost of a ticket which is often free.

So it seems that increased cost and free entry for all presents a case that the trade fair is no longer viable….

Or is it?

Exhibiting means greater brand presence and an opportunity to demonstrate your products or services. It often means access to exhibitor only networking too and potentially presenting a seminar to demonstrate one’s knowledge and experience.

But to make the most of your stand and really activate the brand does take a bit more effort and potentially cost. You might need to design the space you have very carefully, create new promotional material and exhibition/information boards and you might need to train your team in promoting the brand.

The challenge is that for small businesses the cost in terms of time and money and the ease of access by competitors often means that exhibiting is simply not affordable. So for rural areas a trade fair potentially excludes up to 95% of local businesses meaning that the content of the event is focused on larger enterprises.

That could be exactly what is wanted but perhaps this conundrum lays down a gauntlet to trade fair organisers (ourselves included) to craft and curate trade fair experiences that are affordable, viable and most importantly, enjoyable, creating positive impact for all involved. This is where a ‘corporate’ event becomes a creative challenge and whilst the traditional model is perhaps dead and buried, we have a great opportunity to evolve something new!

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky Events

If you do what you love …

JessGoodwinThe past couple of months have been a bit of blur, travelling across the South West and UK whilst working at a variety of events – I am writing this sat in my hotel in Manchester having spent the week at Tatton Park Flower show. Earlier this week Joey and I were chatting over dinner and how we came to know about Mackerel Sky, which I thought would be a good intro into my first blog.

I first met Claire 5 years ago; I was an enthusiastic events management student in my 2nd year at Plymouth University. Claire was a guest lecture sharing her knowledge about sustainability in events and talking about her company Mackerel Sky (then known as Event Cornwall). I didn’t speak to Claire after the lecture but I left inspired, thinking what a cool company Mackerel Sky would be to work for.

Wind the clock forward and I now work for Mackerel Sky Events. I have now been an associate for nearly 4 months and I have already had a great (and busy) summer! From day one I got stuck in, spending my first weekend at St Ives Food & Drink festival. Despite it being a long weekend, I enjoyed every minute of it. Meeting lovely traders, eating delicious food and spending 3 days on Porthminster Beach in the sun, who could complain?!? Since then I have worked at Tunes in the Dunes, 2 prestigious flower shows and I am getting ready to pack my bags for France to go to Lorient Festival (I’m a little excited for that!).

I have been welcomed into the Mackerel Sky family with open arms and so far it’s been a blast. As they say ‘if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’.

Jess Goodwin, Event Associate, Mackerel Sky Events homepage

Professionalism should never be underrated

Sometimes it is only when one is working with people who are unprofessional that one realises what being professional is all about. I have tried to define this a number of times but fail to find a definition that works completely.

Is it about wearing a suit? Sometimes

Is it about complying with industry standards? Yes but so much more

Is it about being paid to do a job? Not necessarily

Is it about knowing it all? Definitely not!

Is it about paying attention? Yes

Is it about caring about the quality of your work? Yes I think so

Is it about how other people define you? Important perspective but not vital

Perhaps if we look at those we consider to be professional we can get a clearer picture of this. David Cameron? Richard Branson? Karen Brady? We might not like them or agree with them but I think all are professional in their fields. More locally, I look at people like Toby Parkins, Sarah Trethowan, Allyson Glover, Michael Rabone and Simon Tregoning who are consummate professionals in their fields. Successful, yes but also have integrity. They always get back to you when they say they will. They don’t belittle the new emerging talent in their industries, but rather foster it. When you meet with any of them, they pay you full attention. They are honest and believe in what they do wholeheartedly.

And I think most of all, true professionals are those who rise above the challenge of working with those who are difficult, obstreperous, stressed, thwarted and encumbered, to focus on achieving objectives and creating positive impact in all they do. Importantly, they also recognise that sometimes we fail and that this is ok so we learn from it and move on. Professional people find a balance between not taking things personally but taking valid points on board and they are brilliant at managing and developing the people they work with, partly by setting a good example and partly by recognising their own strengths and weaknesses.

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky Events homepage

New is Good For You

Steve JobsI attended the AEME conference hosted By Mackerel Sky’s Claire this week and had the privilege of sitting in on a key note speech by Dr Jen Otter Bickerdike. The conference, and Jen’s talk, was themed ‘Creative Risk’.

I really liked the sound of those two words together despite the fact they could be seen as polar opposites; one suggesting innovation and excitement whilst the other, well, scares the living hell out of most of us.

Google tells me that ‘risk’ literally means “a situation involving exposure to danger”. This alone is terrifying – why on earth would anyone willingly expose themselves to danger?! ‘Creative’ means ‘To use imagination or form new ideas’. So for me, the two words together are a perfect union and bring about a whole new meaning, that is; Embark on the new. New thinking. New action.

It is not a revelation that new is what drives business forward. New is what makes sales happen, connections form, careers develop, businesses start and grow. Every new step is arguably a risk, moving from the comfort of where you currently are to where you haven’t been before with absolutely no guarantee that things will work out (oh hi danger part!) But what Jen outlined in her speech is what is key here – Things don’t work out… ‘as you planned’ but they always, always work out. The risk becomes then a challenge to trust that the new will leads you to places you simply can’t imagine… and that’s ok. What’s the worst that can happen?

There is a youtube clip that made a real impression on me a few years ago and inspired me to take a significant risk in my career and personal life. It’s a fifteen minute video of the late Steve Jobs addressing Stanford University at their graduation ceremony. He speaks of, amongst other wonderful things, how the worst things that happened to him in in his career (*getting fired by apple) led to his greatest achievements (*starting Pixar… and then being re-employed by Apple!) He talks of how you can’t connect the dots between events in life looking forward, only looking back – and I love that. I bet there are situations or experiences you can look back on now and say ‘wow that was painful/risky at the time but my god I’m glad it happened because it lead me here’. Maybe you met someone, started something, did something amazing as a result of that experience.

Taking a risk is scary. Risk is putting yourself, your ideas, your business out there. The danger is fear of the world rejecting or criticising you, or it all going wrong. But what if we viewed risk creativity and realised that staying the same could actually be more dangerous to us either personally or to our businesses. What if we take away the concept of fear (the danger) and see risk as a creative action to invite new experiences and opportunities into our lives and trust that it will lead us to places we simply can’t imagine.

Taking a risk doesn’t have to be as grand as starting Pixar but it can be something that puts you out of your comfort zone. Writing this, my first ever blog post to go up on my new employers website, is utterly terrifying but this is my new, my risk. SO, here’s the challenge for you today – do something that scares you and put yourself out there; pick up the phone to your dream client, send that press release, go to that networking event you’ve been putting off. Take a risk. Be creative. Somewhere along the line we may realise, when we look back to connect the dots in our lives and careers, that the ‘dots’ are in fact when we’ve taken creative risks.


Joey Hulin, Business Development Manager


Can You Help?

Our friends at Climate Vision need your help with a Crowdfunder campaign … over to them to give some more details on what’s involved and what it’s for …

“In 2009, the Footsteps Project took place where networks of climate activists and scientists in Truro delivered a behavioural change campaign to support local and national delegates involved in the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP15). We asked individuals and communities to think about the carbon cost of their lifestyle and to pledge easy and realistic carbon cutting actions. In only four months, the campaign enabled 4488 individuals and organisations to adopt low-carbon and sustainable behaviours such as buying local, saving energy or researching climate change.
We are now looking to calculate the carbon cost of our campaign in order to show to COP21 delegates that behavioural strategy solutions can be effective to achieve carbon reduction targets. We also want to show that they can compete with risky and more expensive technology such as carbon storage and capture. Finally the carbon cutting pledges added value to the local economy, building resilience and enabled communities to engage with climate change.
To make this happen we need your help. We aim to raise £5k through a Crowd funder that started May 1st, half will go on data analysis to provide a Cost Per Tonne, half on publicity and getting the story from Cornwall to Paris.
We would also like to invite you to visit our Crowd Funder page to pledge to help and be a part of this solution.

If you want to hear Sundays BBC Radio Cornwall interview, listen in at 2hr 28 mins in Many thanks”