Sowing seeds in cyberspace

Lynne Franks, the PR guru who inspired Absolutely Fabulous, talks about her new website aimed at women in business
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The Independent Online

I've been doing marketing for 30 years now and I felt comfortable with setting up a website for my business because I know how to communicate. We've got a site for Global Fusion, my ecological marketing business, and another umbrella site for women, SeedFusion. The future is clearly about technology, and we want to be heavily part of the future.

I've been doing marketing for 30 years now and I felt comfortable with setting up a website for my business because I know how to communicate. We've got a site for Global Fusion, my ecological marketing business, and another umbrella site for women, SeedFusion. The future is clearly about technology, and we want to be heavily part of the future.

While setting up these sites, we did lots of research and discovered that once women get over their fears about going on the Internet, they find it easier than they would have thought. Women have the sort of flexible minds suited to the Internet. It's rare that they buy on the Internet. And they can't be bothered with playing games. Research and email is popular because women don't want to be passive; they want to interact. For myself, that might mean listening to web radio while working.

So bearing all of this in mind, we've concentrated on information and design. Fortunately, my partner's husband, Brett Wickens, is one of the highest-paid website designers in the world, and we commissioned him for the business site. Of course, that site is fairly straight and looks like a company brochure with lots of information, and using elements of the site to reflect our company ethos. For example, we've developed the Press Zone, where journalists can download Press Kits and save a tremendous amount of paper, making our business more energy efficient. For the women's information site, we used an illustrator called Anne Field to give it a very visual and more feminine look.

A paper-free society is the future of information sending. Which is not to say do away with paper altogether; I think people will always want to touch books. But with the book we've published for women entrepreneurs, of which the seed site is a spin-off, we're planting two trees for every tree used in its making.

The website is going to be linked to offline Seed projects, such as SeedTV, where we'll examine women entrepreneurs around the globe, including the Third World. Our first programme was filmed in Bosnia, which you can see snippets of on the site, if you have the patience to download it.

Admittedly, speed is still a problem with downloading visuals on the Internet. But the website will be constantly developed as the technology progresses.

The most important thing we advise women about the Internet is not letting it get the better of you, and to get on top of it. It's easy to use a computer and the Internet; you get someone to teach you.

To set up a site is more tricky, but there are still amateurs who can do that successfully; I was just reading this week about two girls who set up a site and it's now worth millions.

I probably spend four or five hours a day using the computer. I start at 6am in LA and check my European emails, then it's the beach for an hour-and-half of yoga, then I check my emails a couple of times a day. In the evening I use that quiet time to write.

'The Seed Handbook' (Thorsons, £14.99).

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