A tempting selection of cheese on a cheese board   Lamb cutlets elegantly arranged on a plate in a restaurant   A business man drowning in paper holding a card saying HELP   An array of spices including paprika, peppercorns, turmeric, nutmeg   An Alphonso mango, grown in Bombay and devoured in Chiswick by me Joanna Biddolph
Amethyst Communications

Phone: 07775 902904
Email: jo@amethystcommunications.com

A splash of paint mimicking a piece of amethyst, painted for me by a friend Amethyst Logo Text

Crisis management for independent restaurants and food businesses

All food businesses face risks that could damage their reputations. Food poisoning, poor quality supplies, damning health and safety reports, tell-tale stories about life in the kitchen, revelations about dangerous or sloppy practices, damaging comments on the Internet or in social media, a fire – all could erupt at any time, driving away customers and affecting profits perhaps forever.

Photo of a couple of simple place settings in a restaurant

Yet many restaurateurs and business owners have done little to prepare for the worst, leaving them vulnerable.

Prepping for a crisis is as important as prepping for service. While crises seldom go to plan, adapting a plan is easier than starting from scratch when you are under pressure from customers, officials and the media – who may camp on your doorstep, flood your phone lines, or sneak into your kitchen, pouring hot oil on your boiling-over water.

Being prepared for the onslaught gives you direction and confidence from the minute things start to go wrong.

If you get it right, your reputation will be enhanced; if you get it wrong, your business may fail – perhaps taking others with you.

Learn how to protect your business, and your reputation, at a crisis management training course or workshop for independent restaurateurs and food businesses. With over 30 years’ crisis management experience, I will help you prepare for the worst and, if it does happen, guide you through the crisis and back to business success. Do get in touch: 07775 902904 or email me.

Read my blog about crisis management.

Read my articles about crisis management.


Freelance journalist, writer and author

An image of a writer writing on her knee (it isn’t me) Writing has been an urge since the days of saying thank you in ink on Basildon Bond.

As a journalist, tackling real life from askance and with a light touch is my way. Food writing features heavily (I think constantly about it, perhaps because I was born, as my natural cook mother put it, “in plenty of time for lunch”). I live to eat; I travel to eat – so travel writing, particularly if it involves food writing, comes naturally. I’m a passionate supporter of independent businesses, restaurants and shops and exposing their local issues is a mission. Waste and recycling are recurring themes.

I’ve written for The Independent, Air Canada’s CheckIn, Square Meal and my local community website. For three and a half years, I wrote the local issue column of The Green, distributed in west London. I also wrote the Kids’ Corner column for a year, using a pseudonym (neither she nor I has children), plus other features (food, books, people, places, events) for The Green and many of its sister magazines (published by Archant Life).

For six heady weeks I had my own column in PR Business, taking a sideways look at freelance life. That was deliciously intoxicating.

As an author I have three books jostling for attention in my head and on my keyboard. Sadly, they are not blockbuster fiction; handbooks/guides are my skill. I’ve written a lot of corporate blurb. I was born blogging, long before blogging was born.

If you have space to fill, and want a fast-paced, easy-to-read, embracing, investigative story … please ask.

Read my blog about Freelance life.

Read my articles.


About me

bullet Honest, straightforward approach
bullet Ruthless about delivering a high quality service (and expecting it when on the receiving end)
bullet Passionate supporter of independent restaurants, businesses and shops
bullet Likes to eat, especially seasonal, local foods (except for indulging in Indian Alphonso mangoes every spring)

For my credentials, read on:
Photo of me wearing my corporate colour

I started working life in … I was going to put party politics but that ignores my earlier stint in kitchens: 14 months cooking, waiting and handling difficult customers and situations in the fantastically popular La Piñata, Harvard Square. After three months at the Cordon Bleu in London, I got lost in the vast, underground kitchens of The Berkeley Hotel slicing tomatoes (unskinned!) for ladies lunching in Le Perroquet. Cooking 70s wine bar food followed, at the much-loved Brahms & Liszt in Covent Garden.

Then the cauldron of party politics (nothing beats working through a general election), a flash in the pan year as a student and then a year in a disability charity before my former boss, a newly elected MP, enticed me to the House of Commons. From there I moved into the steam of political pressure group campaigning before falling into the fire of lobbying. Working for Westminster Strategy, then the largest lobbying consultancy, meant doing government and media relations plus crisis management. Transferring to the pressure-cooker that is crisis media management was logical.

After a short spell at the NFU (recovering from the first BSE crisis and lamb wars) I became head of press at the Corporation of London a year before the Bishopsgate bomb went off. Helping the City recover its leading international reputation was our focus. My last PAYE job was at the UK Steel Association where I was responsible for all its communications, including recommending and overseeing a change in its name (from the widely unheard of Bispa). And where is the UK steel industry now?

And so, in 1998, to self-employment: specifically to promote independent restaurants, businesses and charities including by helping them to prepare for and manage crises – and to write.

Honest and straightforward; it’s the best approach, always.

Promoting independent businesses

Service, service, service. It’s all about service. What you do for your clients or customers – going the extra mile to provide what they need – that’s what I promote. Often, businesses don’t know just how good a service they provide; I unearth it in a sensitive but detailed examination, looking at it from your customers’ point of view and asking the questions they would ask if only they had the courage. I then recommend what you should do to get better known for your unique approach.

What are my services?

bullet Communications strategy and implementation: developing your business communications to attract the attention you deserve from the people you want to impress
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  bullet corporate communications: so outsiders understand what you do
  bullet internal communications: so your staff can be your best ambassadors
  bullet crisis management: preparing you for the worst, guiding you through it if it happens
  bullet corporate social responsibility: highlighting your ethics and values
  bullet media training: making the most of being in the spotlight
  bullet community relations: building important alliances
  bullet campaigning: taking public opinion with you
  bullet lobbying: changing hearts and minds
bullet Content writing:developing your business communications to keep your audiences informed
  bullet conveying your unique image, style and tone
  bullet developing websites, blogs, html newsletters
  bullet drafting newsletters, brochures, reports
  bullet compiling questionnaires, fact sheets, surveys, forms
  bullet devising displays and exhibition materials
  bullet honing presentations

If you’d like to talk about how I could help your business do contact me on: 020 8994 4428 or email me.

Read my blog about Service.


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Crisis Management Service not included Freelance life with Lunch
Tips for preparing for, managing and surviving business crises Experiences of service, from the worst to the best Helping freelancers survive the challenges of freelancing

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What others say:

“I would like to thank you for all your help. I was particularly impressed with how you managed to translate legal jargon into plain English. I was equally impressed with the speed at which you produced all the text for our website.”
Susan Davies, Partner, Watson Marshal Solicitors

“Jo always produced copy that was engaging and relevant to my target audience. Her features were always the ones which inspired readers to write in and share their own experiences whilst her balanced approach ensured that there were two sides to every story – both represented without bias.”
Clare Kelly, Editor, The Green

“A perfect article, Jo – right on the nail!”
Maxine Briggs, Editor, The Green

“I really should start using other freelancers but you do such a good job – let me know if I am relying too much on you!”
Maxine Briggs, Editor, The Green


What’s in a name?

Amethyst Communications Logo People do ask so here goes. I wanted a word beginning with A, to come high in alphabetical lists. I didn’t want to use my name (I promote others, not me). So I wafted through a dictionary and learned that amethyst is mined in India (where I was born), opens intuition (essential for client-consultant and business-customer relationships), brings stability (useful in a crisis) and prevents intoxication (helpful during food reviews). It seemed a bit new-agey (I’m very down to earth) but would do. As for the colours, I love purple and red so was delighted when a friend reminded me that purple represents authority and red demonstrates power (relevant to my clients’ businesses). Would I make the same decision if I were starting out today? Now that’s an even longer answer …

Need help with your communications? Do get in touch: 07775 902904 or jo@amethystcommunications.com
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