As a small business owner and PR coach, I often find myself working in some pretty unusual places – the oddest one to date being on a chicken bus in northern Nicaragua, surrounded by…you guessed it! (the clue is in the name, if not).

Getting out of the office to work in different locations, for me, is great for creativity, sparking up a conversation and generally observing things that go on day-to-day that I can use as inspiration for my own content.

During this groggy week of dull and dreary November weather, I decided to up sticks and head out to a much brighter place with grade one wi-fi – a high street coffee shop in Lichfield.

With head buried in pitching for Black Friday and earphones on, an older lady gestured to ask if she could sit down. I smiled and nodded and then continued with my work as she pulled up a chair opposite me and tucked into her croissant (with strawberry jam on the side) and a rather delicious smelling latte.

As I casually glanced up from time-to-time I didn’t feel the pressure to chat and she seemed extremely comfortable in her own thoughts, but after my busy morning of selling-in stories, I shut down the laptop, looked up and smiled.

“How are you today”, I asked. “I’m great thanks, my dear, I come here every Wednesday as it gets me out of the house and I usually meet new faces just like yours.”

We chatted for a further 10 minutes where I asked her questions about her life, where she lives now, where she did live and her profession – fascinating stuff, genuinely.

My dear old nan passed away five-years-ago and she was always full of stories and tales to tell – about working in a factory during the war and later in life as a dinner lady. She often had a thing or two to say about her neighbours and what she saw from behind her net curtains (the perfect home accessory for being nosy but without being seen, according to nan).

I could tell that Sheila really enjoyed recalling stories from her younger years and how she enthused about her life then and even now. Even more importantly, this lady seemed to have her nose to the ground on issues going on in this small city of ours…namely, when M&S was potentially relocating to an out-of-town location, which was to be kept a top secret! (please note, don’t ever tell me your secrets!)

Sheila the storyteller – and happy to be photographed.

You see stories make the world of life, friendships and importantly the media go around and without them, life would be a pretty dull place. I enjoy asking questions and unearthing client stories that may spark some interest with the media, day in, day out – it’s my job as a PR consultant you see.

If you’re looking to get press coverage in 2018/19 for your business or brand and you’re thrilled that you have made 20,000 widgets this year and that’s what you want to shout about, I’d encourage you to perhaps think a bit deeper and offer a journalist a piece of advice from your past that has helped to shape your future, or a golden nugget of information about your industry, or perhaps 10 top tips to success – that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

From what Sheila told me in 10 minutes she could have easily created a pretty cracking blog packed full of content about life and Lichfield.

Ensure you regularly mine your own life for stories and you’ll soon have a mind-map full of great content which you can use on your website, social media and for pitching into the press.

Don’t sit in silence, become your own version of Sheila.