Publicity tip for writers – avoid my mistake!

This week was a roller-coaster. Now that my book is (self)published in paperback I decided to give press releasing another go – when I had the Kindle / eBook version published my press releases didn’t seem to provoke any press interest. So, I sent off press releases to two local papers. I followed the advice I’d gathered from the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook excellent Self-Publishing conference some months back. I gave the press release a topical “hook.” I linked the current horsemeat scandal to a snippet in my book on the story of the horse in film – as I recount in the book, Roy Rogers’ beautiful horse Trigger ended up in a number of burgers.


Well, there was no response at first, then I got  a short email asking for more details. Then nothing. Oh well, I thought and got on with other work. Then, one wet windy day I got a phonecall from the newspaper – a telephone interview and – “we’re sending the photographer round”. That’s now. 45 minutes to get me – and the horse – ready. The horse was covered in mud and both of us were having a bad hair day. Oh, and what to wear? Cue some frantic scrabbling around.

So my point is, once you send off a press release, be prepared for the press to react – just in case they do.

For any of you whose publicity photo might include a horse – another tip would be: test said horse with flash photography first! My horse Freddie reacted badly to the flash – she broke her headcollar and was off.   Anyway, here’s the picture the paper finally got:

Picture courtesy of Premier Newspapers


Image Lights! Camera! Gallop” The Story of the Horse in Film from only £1.53 at: 



The horse meat scandal – unanswered questions

So there’s horse meat in ordinary “Fresh Beef” now, not “just” hidden away in processed foods. The scandal continues and we are again told that health risks from eating it are “Very low.” Spokesmen are acknowledging that the horse medicine Bute (side effects in humans from consuming this can include “aplastic anaemia”  – with loss of red and white blood cells). But not to panic, we are told, it must be in minute quantities. If this is the case, did it really warrant the whole business of compulsory horse passports, introduced in order to prevent horse medicines entering the food chain?

The real scandal, though, is the number of horses being sent to abattoirs because of the cost of keeping them is too high in times of financial recession. A mare with foal will fetch £250, I’m told, for meat. It’s one thing for pets (or even humans) to consume a horse which has had to be put down for humane reasons, such as an accident or old age. But are we really a nation that wants see foals go that way?  We need to ask some questions which go beyond the jokes. 

The horse meat thing – NOT just a joke

Well, in the UK, the whole Tesco horse meat in burgers scandal has caused a virtual avalanche of jokes of course (check out #horsemeat on Twitter if you missed any of these or if you just love puns). For those who have been hiding under the duvet or just don’t live in the UK, horse meat was found in a number of shops’ burgers – and one Tecso burger was reported to contain 29% horse meat. There have been practical jokes too – the lady in jodphurs and riding hat asking to see the Tesco manager and complaining that she’d left her horse tied up outside, the two lads in a pantomime horse outfit trotting round Tesco’s howling “Murderers! Where’s my mummy?” – while being pursued by security.

Notoriously, the French are blasé abtrigger2smallout eating horse meat and fail to see the problem but in England horses tend to have a higher status and rightly so. There is a scary precedent –  Roy Rogers’ fabulously beautiful Trigger – star of over 80 films (mostly in the 1950s) – ended up being eaten in burgers. The law-breaking butcher in that case, a John L Jones, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Apart from the scandal of reducing an animal as beautiful and clever as Trigger to something you eat, isn’t there a serious health point here too?

Before Tesco and co fob us off with assurances of “there’s no danger” and apologies, let’s remember that the point of those horse passports and all their rules (tedious as they sometimes are) is to ensure that all those medicines some horses have (the lucky and the unlucky, depending which way you look at it) do NOT enter the human food chain. And that was due to concerns about such horses entering the human food chain indirectly, that is, humans eating the meat of some animal that had eaten horsemeat. Yes some excellent jokes about – but mad cows were funny once, before hundreds of people actually died of BSE. So the big question is, what EXACTLY did those burgers contain???