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24.12.09

Happy Christmas Everyone

The card above is believed to be one of the first mass-produced Christmas cards - dating back more than 160 years - and can be found among the extensive special collections of Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology.
The lithographed card caused a controversy in some quarters of Victorian English society when it was published in 1843 because it prominently features a child taking a sip from a glass of wine. Approximately 1,000 copies of the card were printed but only 10 have survived to modern times. Bridwell Library acquired its copy in 1982. The card was designed for Henry Cole by his friend, the English painter John Calcott Horsley (1808-1882). Cole wanted a ready-to-mail greeting card because he was too busy to engage in the normal custom of writing notes with Christmas and New Year's greetings to friends and family.
The card pre-dated color printing so it was hand-colored. The card is divided into three panels with the center panel depicting a family drinking wine at a celebration and the flanking panels illustrating charitable acts of feeding and clothing the poor.
Cole, who also wrote and published Christmas books, printed more cards than he needed so he sold the extra cards for one shilling each.
Widespread commercial printing of Christmas cards began in the 1860s, when a new process of color printing lowered the manufacturing cost and the price. Consequently, the custom of sending printed Christmas greetings spread throughout England.
Now we can just stick them on the internet… have a good Christmas.

19.12.09

The wonderful Watersons



Last night I went to see Waterson Carthy at the Victoria Hall in Salt Aire singing Christmas songs. Norma Waterson is still hail and hearty and has lungs made of leather - but I just found this video of her - possibly before she had even met her husband Mart Carthy. Simply wonderful stuff. I'm a sucker for traditional English folk songs.

17.12.09

Another new client at GREEN

Over at GREEN we have been appointed to launch techmesh a new business network for the region’s IT and Telecommunications sector backed by Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency.
Yorkshire & Humber has the fastest-growing digital sector in the UK outside of London, and is recognised as a leading centre of excellence in the digital and new media industries. With IT and Telecommunications set to make a major contribution to the Yorkshire and Humber economy the new business network, techmesh , will provide a business network for companies, organisations and individuals working in these sectors to meet, exchange information and share best practice.
As a business collaboration network techmesh - managed by Connect Yorkshire - will act as an umbrella organisation, bringing together existing networks in the region and will signpost businesses to other sources of funding information, market intelligence, emerging technologies and research and development opportunities.
Connect Yorkshire’s chief executive Nick Butler said: “techmesh enables members to share knowledge, exchange ideas, meet like-minded companies and ultimately win more business. The aim is to help create a commercial ecosystem where innovative, ambitious companies can thrive and give members a means of forming profitable relationships.”
“Our long-term aim, with the support of Yorkshire Forward, is to create a vibrant, active, supportive and self-funding network to help further the interests of IT and Telcommunications organisations and professionals in Yorkshire and Humberside.”
Jim Farmery, Assistant Director of Business at Yorkshire Forward, said: “techmesh will be an industry-led strategic organisation that will bring together all the fragmented strands of the IT and telecommunications sectors in our region and provide focus, leadership and direction.”
“It will help all the region’s digital sector to work comprehensively together on key sector issues over the next three years and beyond. Digital and new media has been identified as a priority sector in the region, due to the existing strength of the sector and potential for further growth. techmesh is another way Yorkshire Forward is supporting IT and telecomunications industries in the region.”
The key aims of techmesh are to grow the IT and Telecommunications industry within the Yorkshire and Humber region; increase the number of businesses participating in the network helping them to increase turnover, encourage innovation and market exploitation.
techmesh will run a series of events across the region over the next 12 months bringing members together at informal networking events as well as larger events bringing some major speakers from the leading IT and Telecommunications companies.

13.12.09

Stop drinking bottled water

Presented by Online Education
The Facts About Bottled Water

4.12.09

Brand attrition...

30.11.09

BarCamp Bradford video

20.11.09

Razor sharp Twitter Wars


I’m not shaving at the moment. Don’t ask? I’ve never liked shaving but when I grow a beard I end up looking like a member of Al Qaeda but some time it’s nice to give the face a rest.
However, you would think something as innocuous as shaving would never enter into a Twit War but I have just witnessed one. And it underscores the dangers of abusing the openness of Twitter.
Now I use Gillette and I user Azor by King of Shaves so I was somewhat surprised that following the Hand of Theirry Controversy, consumers focused on Gillette (a sponsor of Theirry) and threatened a boycott to punish the French captain’s handball. And this is where it gets interesting because Will King, founder of King of Shaves somehow found his company in the thick of it.
He takes up the story here on his blog Brand Royalty underlining the dangers of masquerading as a loyal Gillette customer when in fact you are the company’s public relations strategist. Will recounts how he received the following Tweets:

“Time for everyone to boycott gillette and go @kingofshaves #henrylecheat”

“Cannot bloody believe Gillette is standing by Henry. There goes my Mach3 in the bin”

“Wonder if #Gillette will drop #ThierryHenry now? Reputation management issue for brand, they are getting targeted for their association”

Now Will tells it in his own words…

Having (naturally!) re-tweeted tweet #1, I was then intrigued to read the following tweet from @charliedm: “A lot more people would switch to Azor if it wasn’t a cheap plastic piece of rubbish that leaves you looking all Sweeney Todd”.

Now, as I - a) I’ve shaved with our Azor for over two years now (and get the close, comfortable and cost efficient King of Shaves each morning), b) know that a lot of people are switching to our Azor - it was the #1 selling system razor handle last month, and c) know it isn’t a bit of ‘cheap plastic rubbish’ - rather, it embodies all that is great in consumer products, not all that is unnecessary - I was interested to see who @charliedm was…

Turns out he’s Creative Strategist for Porter Novelli London…Gillette’s PR agency. Ooh er. Someone’s rattled out there.

The following tweet exchange then ensues:

@kingofshaves Gillette stick with Henry. Many others not sticking with Gillette, but going to King of Shaves, Azor. Good!

@charliedm Well done for turning the misfortune and misery of as entire nation into a publicity drive. That’s not at all cheap”.

@kingofshaves “Don’t Porter Novelli look after Gillette’s PR…?”

@charliedm “It’s great for the kind of razor you might get in a Christmas cracker…

@kingofshaves “Um, you would say that given you handle Gillette’s PR. The King of Shaves Azor is a GREAT razor

@kingofshaves “Surprised that as chief strategist you make such a negative, public comment. wait until you see our october sales - bit worried?.

@charliedm “Does a lion find a dormouse worrying? Anyway, this isn’t work - this is jousting”

@kingofshaves “BA used to think that way. And learned the hard way. Joust away, my friend”.

@charliedm “Interesting. That’s just the kind of thing XL Airways used to say…”

Then, another enters the fray:
@shedmenshealth Playground bitching on twitter? :o/ Charlie, consumers can read! You should know better in PR. Will, stay strong fella!

Then another..
@peterdean1 “*enjoying* @kingofshaves tweet jousting with Gillette PR’s > @charliedm.

Then another…
@atterolognis “Interesting joust - Funny that he refers to the Azor as a bit of plastic when his is exactly that. Oh wait, it vibrates.

Then another..
Adam: Is @KingofShaves tweet jousting with Gillette PR’s > @charliedm going to turn into another great Tweet war? Hmm….

As in the real - stones and glass houses. A PR lesson for us all.

Porter Novelli have apologised here.

15.11.09

We did a BarCamp


We did a BarCamp. Yesterday more than 100 people from a wide range of professions and industries attended and BarCampBradford which took place at the WOW Academy and the National Media Museum.

A big thank you to everyone who attended and who presented and many thanks for our sponsors Sponsors which included Screen Yorkshire, Yorkshire Forward, National Media Museum, Panoetic, Frogtrade, Shipley College , BMedia, GREEN Communications, University of Bradford and Challenge CLC.

People travelled to Bradford from across the north with delegates arriving from Lancaster, Chester, Scarborough, Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and Halifax. There were more than 40 separate presentation throughout the day ranging from doing business in Second Life and launching and iPhone App (a good representation of the day’s talks can be seen in the picture above and in the tag cloud below).

However, a flavour of the talks is listed here.

  • Google's hidden gems by John McLear - Primary Technology and Welcome3's MD exposes some of googles hidden gems including Android, CSE, Analytics, SSO, Adwords & Adsense.
  • Twitter for Business - the dos and donts of Twitter and how it can make or damage a brand's reputation – Thomas Atcheson
  • How a small local team of individuals are trying to find new ways of bringing social history to life - and aiming to change attitudes to open data along the way. (Jon Eland
  • Rethinking the Presentation - how to not kill people with Powerpoint. - Ian Smith
  • iPhone Application Development - Things I've learned from making my Zombies game - Matt West
  • Setting up an ecommerce business & use of social media, blogs, Twitter, Facebook... - Chris Wildman
  • A Decade of WebDesign - Tracking trends in design - Monica Tailor
  • Retro Gaming - A session, round-table, discussion, demos of retro games and retro tech - Mohsin Ali & Pawel Dubiel
  • The 'Civic App Store' - Round-table around OpenCities, OpenData, Cities as Operating Systems, Streets as Platforms, Unique AR useage & Mobile apps for cities - Mohsin Ali
  • Version Control - An introduction to how we use it to develop large CMS projects - Panoetic
  • Legal Challenges of Web 2.0 - Will cover such issues as ownership of copyright and other intellectual property in user generated content, liability for user generated content, privacy, dispute resolution and much more - Jane Lambert
  • Internet marketing workshop - want more website visitors? Conversion/sales/downloads? Reputation? Round table IM problem solving with John Allsopp
  • Drupal For Good - presentation on how Gentlehost are using Drupal for Social Change, then it's over to you for discussing ways in which Drupal can be used for good - Alice Kærast
  • How to sell yourself better at interview - we've interviewed somewhere in the region of 50-60 developers this year, and only hired two. What we've learned in this process - Adam Hepton
  • User experience in .net magazine December 2009 - a response on a couple of articles in the latest issue: interview with Brian Kalma from Zappos, and article by Craig Grannell on 'Master user experience design' - Keith Doyle (Usability Analyst)
  • Making a Game! - A presentation on the process of game making and the various markets. (Simon Barratt - hoping he'll be able to get by just working from his bullet points!)
  • Get rich with Free Software - Free Software, what it is, how it works and how you can get fat rich with it. John Leach

Some other facts about the day:

  • More than 300 cakes were consumed at breakfast - baked by my daughter Mercedes
  • 240 cups of tea and coffee were served
  • 50 pizzas and countless chips were consumed at lunch
  • 1,000 tweets were posted to Twitter at the last time of counting
  • 200 bottles of water were drunk
  • 59 bloggers wrote about the event before it happened and more are emerging as I write.
  • 40 Twitpics were published and a Flickr account has also been set up
  • Beers where drunk at the end of the day but no-one kept count

Will we do it again? You bet yah!


2.11.09

Learning about social media from an old fart

Now this story might appear a bit crude, but it really happened, and inadvertently provided a wonderful metaphor for understanding new developments in communications, particularly social media.
Picture the scene: my colleague Andy Green is in a busy Edinburgh pub, crowded with delegates from the CIPR Local Public Services Annual Conference, where he was a speaker.
At the end of the evening, Andy and some acquaintances were still talking shop at the bar, with one delegate airing his view that he ‘really didn’t see the significance of this social media thing.’
One senior delegate patiently sought to explain how social media was not just another channel for communication, but required a different mindset. And then, without announcement, surreptitiously, slipped away from the bar.
His new found friend at the conference, an Irish guy then declared in his Dublin brogue: "Someone has farted - and it’s not me!"
Andy reassured him that it genuinely wasn’t him either. The absent friend seemed prime suspect.
The episode instantly provided Andy with a metaphor: "This is how social media is different. You see, normal communications is telling the world what you want to say. Social media, is picking up conversations which may be about you, and may, in many instances not be instigated about you. So, you would not issue a press release for the equivalent of ‘You have just farted’. The fart, however, is a reality for those out there. And is more likely to be picked up as a conversation piece, regardless of your embarrassment.”
He added: "If you’re not out there listening, and appropriately responding you are in danger of living in an artificial, You-Centric world, and not being part of the real conversation. That’s the real difference with this social media thing.”
The metaphor seemed to work in making his new friend understand the different mindset of social media. It’s funny, how an ill-wind can bring new insight.

8.10.09

The craic that is social media

Usually we have to drag clients and potential clients kicking and screaming to the table of social media.

We believe that social media offers a veritable smorgasbord of opportunities for business and how they communicate with their customers and world at large – particularly in these straightened times when social media provides such a low cost entry to market.

However, in companies where the boards are dominated by middle-aged men convincing them of the merits of social media – whether it be a Twitter account or a blog or even a Flickr account – is seen as tantamount to inviting them to take up skateboarding.

So we are delighted to be working with Fitzgerald Group, one of Ireland’s leading leisure companies, which has completely embraced what social media can do for them.

They have just launched a new website which takes in Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook. It’s also rich in user generated content written by happy customers who have stayed at its hotels in - The Louis Fitzgerald Hotel, Arlington Hotel and Arlington Temple Bar Hotel.

Stephen Williams, Group E-Commerce Manager at Fitzgerald Group has been an early adopter of social media and uses Web2.0 tools to engage with its hotel guests and customers of its pubs which include The Quays, Temple Bar, The Stag’s Head and Ireland’s Bar of the Year Grand Central on O’Connell Street.

It is now working with LouderVoice where guests can now review their experiences directly on the site and provide valuable feedback and opinion. Those looking for reviews of the hotels no longer have to trawl the web trying to find random information, but can read genuine reviews by real guests on the hotel sites themselves.

Recent research has shown that more than a third of internet users rate peer opinions and User Generated Content (UGC) as the most trusted and credible.

Reviews don't just appear on the hotel sites, they are also aggregated to the LouderVoice reviews website, its mobile phone applications and the use of Facebook and Twitter logins means that guests can recommend the hotels to their friends on their favourite social networks.
Conor O'Neill, Chief Executive of LouderVoice says: "The businesses that will survive and thrive in the current economic climate are those that listen and react to their customers' needs. The Fitzgerald Group embraces this and understands that customer reviews are a key part of that strategy."

So well done Stephen. Well done Fitzgerald Group. Others should look and learn because since we started working with them their UK internet traffic has risen by more than 25 per cent as a result of good old deadwood PR and online PR activities.

27.9.09

New recruit at GREEN

Here at GREEN Communications we are delighted to welcome Emma Franklin on board as account executive following a spate of new account wins.
Emma joins GREEN with the agency celebrating a clutch of recent account wins including Ireland hotel chain The Fitzgerald Group, Graduates Yorkshire and international communication network euNetworks.
Having worked for Chronicle Publications for three years as a reporter and news editor, writing for four publications across Yorkshire, Emma will work across a broad range of GREEN clientds including Warburtons, The Chartered Institute of Marketing and Yorkshire Housing.
Emma said: “I am extremely pleased to say I work for GREEN, a company that has proved it self to be one of the North’s most respected PR agencies. In the current economic climate it is important for PR agencies to be at the top of their game, delivering high quality communications services to ensure that businesses convey the right message to their customers.”
Client Services Director Dan Phillips said: “Emma’s background in press journalism brings further depth to the GREEN team and further strengthens our reputation for good solid media relations alongside our growing social media service.”

26.8.09

Come to the BarCamp Bradford

This year, we plan to host a BarCamp in Bradford on Saturday, November 14 and we’re expecting 130 attendees from Yorkshire and across the country with live linkups with BarCamps in the US, Canada and India. We are also seeking to link in with the Bradford Animation Festival 2009 which finishes on November 14. With this in mind we will be encouraging those presenting to look at new developments in film, animation and digital media and offer a Superstar Speaker supported by an appropriate sponsor such as Google.
With that in mind we would also love to hear from anyone who is currently working on an Android app.
We'd love for you to come - if you're a creative, an artist, a writer, blogger, technologist, or a developer, geek, entrepreneur, academic researcher, gamer or investor please join us. If you were just curious and interested in digital culture - we'd love to meet you too. Come and demo, talk, share or just hang out! Follow us on TWITTER for further updates. 
If you want to come make sure you register here. To find out more visit BarCampBradford.

2.8.09

Interns - what's the problem?

First this weekend the Guardian did a big piece about how employers are exploiting graduate internships. In it Polly Curtis, Guardian Education Editor, highlighted how companies are exploiting graduates by offering the work for free with little prospect of a job at the end.
Moreover, this seems to be the mind set for British employers – whether they are in the public or private sector. The assumption is that there are so many graduates in the marketplace why would an employer offer to pay for their services when so many are willing to do it for free.
But “free” comes at a price for the graduates – especially if mummy and daddy can afford to support your career ambitions in the media, PR, marketing. Please note, these are the most oversubscribed professions and as a result they are the most exploited.
This point was underscored by Tyler Brule in his Fast Lane column in the FT (Inert interns need not apply) where he decried the high expectations of trustafarian wannabes who wanted to work on photoshoots but wouldn’t demean themselves with photocopying.
Between both articles the truth is that the UK doesn’t really get internships (an American word if we are honest).
At GREEN we do a lot of work experience placements, usually with high school sixth formers or undergraduates, for which we do not pay. We hope, and believe, we enrich these young people’s experience of what the workplace is like and generally we aim to give them genuine business projects to work on.
However, we are now doing our first internship (for the right candidate) for a 12-month stint in our business during which they will earn significantly more than the minimum wage and learn a hell of a lot about what it is like to work in a communications business.
Interestingly, this coincides with our work with Graduates Yorkshire which has just launched a programme of paid internships in Yorkshire whereby it is seeking to place up to 80 graduates with companies in the region in the next six month up to March 2010.
Polly, at The Guardian, is right that not enough is being done to legitimize and monetize intern’s input into the economy and Tyler is correct in that not enough is being done to match graduate expectations with the reality of the workplace.
However, initiatives like Graduates Yorkshire will close the gap. Watch this space.

26.7.09


According to this chart I was a web developer, IT journalists and professional blogger when I joined Twitter. I am/was none of these things.

We are hiring again at GREEN

re you financial whizz? Are you AAT qualified with an excellent understanding of SAGE and a keen eye for managing cashflow?

If so, we would like to talk to you as GREEN Communications, based in Wakefield, is currently seeking a capable financial administrator to provide full range of financial administration and book-keeping duties.
This position provides for a flexible working environment equivalent to three days a week. Salary £14,000 - £17,000 pro rata.
Send your CV to Ian Green, GREEN Communications, Wakefield Media Centre, 19, King Street, Wakefield WF1 2SQ
T: 0845 4503210
F: 0845 4503211
Closing date for applications August 7th. No agencies please

18.7.09

Public Relations: The next stage

I was at an event last week and a delegate I got chatting with said I should be worried about my business because public relations didn’t have a future – what with Web2.0 and all that.
The same thing was said to me in 2005 at LeWeb3.0 in Paris – I’m still around and doing PR and still thriving. The point is Web2.0 will not kill PR but make it stronger as a communications tool.
PR expertise is now paramount. SEO, social network marketing, Web 2.0 applications and the like have all served to increase - not decrease - the value and demand for high-quality public relations. The reason? PR has always been about the conversation and Web2.0 is all about the conversation.
In fact, thinking about it, is the concept of Web2.0 even relevant anymore? With PR, the problem is all about perception – most people think we just send out press releases and now that print media is in decline, they say PR is on it’s way out as well. They never understood that press releases and published articles are just means to an end. The core of PR has always been about communication skills and strategies - the ability to evaluate the competitive landscape, identify the right messages and effectively and honestly communicate those messages to the right audience – in deadwood media as well as any other media.
The slaggers argue that SEO is a dark art - add a meta tag descriptor here, create a load of keywords and move up the Google ranking. Bollocks! It’s all about content. And who manages the content? PR. And who influences user-generated content? PR.
Meanwhile, the press release remains as important as ever. Even with deadwood media the average 50-year-old hack working on a regional newspaper, or, indeed, a national newspaper, would be completely flummoxed if he received a social media press release with all the bells and whistles of podcasts, videos, links, images and third-party sources.
Remember newspapers, magazines, journals and their online companions have not gone away. They’re online, along with a host of bloggers, freelancers and forum writers that are also writing about you and your company.
This means that PR isn’t going away either. It has just become more complex and more important to a strategic communications plan than ever before. And that’s exciting!

Taking OpenCoffee to Barnsley

Following the success of the OpenCoffee networking events we have held in Bradford and Sheffield, bmedi@ are running another event on Thursday 23rd July 2009 in Barnsley.
The emphasis of OpenCoffee is very much on the internet and new media industries etc. These free events are informal and see a range of technology entrepreneurs, designers, bloggers, developers, geeks, investors and anyone else who’s interested in digital media and technology exchanging ideas and striking up relationships that would otherwise never have flourished.
The philosophy of OpenCoffee is very much of an Open House of ideas and people.
OpenCoffee Barnsley is being sponsored by bmedi@.
The event will take place on Thursday 23rd July 2009 between 10 and 12 midday at the Barnsley Digital Media Centre, County Way, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2JW.
Please click here directions.
The event is open to anyone who is interested in the region’s digital, creative and new media industries. You’re welcome to enjoy the coffee, bacon butties, the cakes and the company. We do however need to have an idea of numbers for catering, so please book your place by contacting Dev Dulai either by e-mail dev@bmedia.org.uk or ring 01274 747407.
We look forward to networking with you.

24.6.09

Working with Fitzgerald Group

Shameless plug! - We’ve just come back from a very enjoyable day in Dublin with Stephen Williams, Group E-Commerce and Marketing Manager at the Fitzgerald Group
For those of you who don’t know the Fitzgerald Group – it is one of Irelands leading leisure groups with more than 20 pubs on the Emerald Isle and owner of three of Dublin’s most successful hotels.
They are the Arlington Hotels – at Temple Bar and O’Connell Bridge – the eponymous Louis Fitzgerald Hotel after the company’s entrepreneurial founder who continues to drive the business forward with his unerring eye for detail and his ability to drive pubs and hotels forward where others fail.
Anyway GREEN Communications has been appointed to raise the profile of the three hotels in the UK and send more visitors across the Irish Sea to enjoy the Celtic pleasures on offer at the three hotels. Two of them - Temple Bar and O’Connell Bridge – offer fantastic value for money with great accommodation and nightly entertainment from traditional Irish musicians and dancers.
We – Thomas Atcheson and Kathy Burke – where at the O’Connell Bridge last night and where blown away by the whole experience and we have all vowed to go back independently with our friends and family.
Keep an eye out for further news as we will be managing a range of promotional competitions, special offers and events over the next 12 months to ensure the hotel’s get the reputation they deserve among UK holidaymakers.

12.6.09

Jet2com Tweet to perfection

I have to tip my hat to who ever it is that is managing Jet2’s presence on Twitter.
If the campaign is being run in-house the team at Jet2 should be congratulated for embedding themselves in the conversation that is Twitter at a time when many established brands remain coy about all things social media.
Jet2, which flies out of Leeds-Bradford Airport, in Yorkshire, UK has always been quite bold in its marketing and has now created a real buzz around its brand with a recent competition held on Twitter.
It should be noted that Jet2 has only been on Twitter for a short while – about a week ago it only has about 180 followers. However, since it launched its competition (hashtag = #freeflightsfromjet2), followers have grown three-fold and are continuing to rise as follows re-tweet comments.
The competition is simplicity itself – on the hour today Jet2 is tweeting questions about destinations it flies to and the first follower to send the right answer with the correct hashtag wins a free flight.
A great way to create a buzz around your brand, develop your online personality and brighten up people’s Friday.

10.6.09

This is what I think...

Life's a pitch - stop doing it

I’ve been some what surprised at the number of pitches we are getting to our blog at GREEN from so-called blog engagement companies.
I have been approached in the past on this blog and have actively engaged with some companies as they have been thoughtful enought to have read my blog and understand what interests me. Then they started a conversation with me and eventually asked me to comment on one of their products which I was happy to do.
However, the vast majority of the “social media” companies get it so wrong - take this for instance which I received last week and was aimed at GREENblog.

I am contacting you from NAME DELETED an online video seeding company. We think your site would be an appropriate place to feature the new environmental campaign sponsored by NAME DELETED.
The NAME DELETED campaign is part of an ongoing project to reduce the energy consumption of NAME DELETED desktops an (sic) notebook PC’s by 25% by 2010 (a goal they have already reached a year and a half ahead of schedule). Please go to their site for more information about this great campaign.
To reach this goal they are launching video campaigns in order to create buzz, excitement and awareness online. These two pieces of video content encourage users to save energy by turning off idle PC’s, a small change to your routine that can make a big difference.
If you are interested in embedding either of these videos on your site, please do get in touch as we would love to have you on board.

The point is they have not read our blog. They have just seen the name GREEN and thought we are some sort of environmental blog - and have effectly spammed us damaging their reputation and that of their client.

1.6.09

Getting ready for Google's next wave

Have been very busy all day – and was planning an early night - but was really impressed with the latest Google project which sets out to rewire the online communications with a new product called Wave.
Wave is a web-based application that marries multiple forms of communication and collaboration, including chat, mail and wikis, into a unified interface. Everything inside Wave happens in real time.
It blows MSN out of the water as you can see a comment being made as the person is typing it, character-by-character.
Wave, which was demonstrated last week at the Google I/O developer conference and has been thrown open as an open-source project which people can play with and mash-up.
The thing I love about it is that it pushes over the old email order by allowing people to chat, share information and collaborate with one another in a whole new way. In the old email meme messages can become twisted and fragmented into side conversations and becomes more and more confusing. Sure, there are more structured tools like IM, chat rooms, wikis, group blogs or web apps built for threaded communications, such as FriendFeed.
But Google Wave is aiming to replace all of these with a rolling threaded conversation, real-time chat, nested comments, media sharing, link sharing and wiki-style collaboration into a familiar interface, complete with folders for keeping things organized.
I’ve signed up for the Beta – check it out here…

20.5.09

Inglorious Basterds - bloody hell!


I'm not so much interested in the film, although I will watch it when it screens, than by the fact that on the official Inglorious Basterds (sic) website you can embed the trailer direct in to your blog without even accessing your own blog.
Great piece of viral marketing although I am disappointed it is so flash heavy and is not using some other social media tools like Twitter. However, I have just looked again and they are! Twitter and Facebook - look at it here. Brilliant!

15.5.09

 
It was my birthday today. I am from Liverpool. This is the card my colleagues bought me.

14.5.09

OpenCoffee Sheffield confirmed

Following the success of the OpenCoffee networking events we have held in Bradford, bmedi@ are running another event on Thursday 28th May 2009 in SHEFFIELD.
The emphasis of OpenCoffee is very much on the internet and new media industries etc. These free events are informal and see a range of technology entrepreneurs, designers, bloggers, developers, geeks, investors and anyone else who's interested in digital media and technology exchanging ideas and striking up relationships that would otherwise never have flourished.
The philosophy of OpenCoffee is of an Open House of ideas and people.
OpenCoffee SHEFFIELD, is being sponsored by bmedi@ and the Showroom Sheffield.
The event will take place on Thursday 28th May 2009 at The Showroom Café Bar Sheffield from 10am to midday. The Showroom is located at Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX. Find the map here.
Please note it is only a 2 minute walk from the train station to the venue and various car-parks are available in the area.
The event is open to anyone who is interested in the region's digital, creative and new media industries. You're welcome to enjoy the coffee, bacon butties, the cakes and the company. We do however need to have an idea of numbers for catering, so please book your place by contacting Dev Dulai either by e-mail dev@bmedia.org.uk. or ring 01274 747407.

10.5.09

Puzzled with expenses...

I’m rather puzzled by this malarkey about the - MP’s Expenses Scandal - (add exclamation marks where appropriate) - it’s wrong of course to claim for a Kit-Kat or Bath Plug and especially for tampons when you’re a bloke.
None of the above assists you in the role of representing your constituents in parliament. And from a professional point of view the whole "communications" and "public relations" response has been shite.
Surely it’s an indelible strain of British culture to screw the system as much as you can for as long as you can get away with it. Just look at the banks and the whole British economy if you want evidence.
And, as a former hack, it seems strange to see journalists beating their breasts about the hypocrisy (something us Brits do so well) of the MPs claiming expenses for second homes, renovations, prams, tampons and, in one case, mole infestation.
As a desk editor, on a newspaper, sometimes my eyebrows where at the back of my head when I read some expense claims which I knew to be completely spurious. For instance charging for mileage to interview a farmer in Northumberland when I had overhear the said journalist interviewing the farmer from the office 360 miles away before going to the pub for lunch.
This was at a newspaper which had its own ATM to dispense expenses at the end of every week. I remember it well. It meant I could feed my family every week. Which is the same argument the MPs are using "You, the tax payer don’t pay us enough so we have to do this fiddley-expensy-housing thing".
Did I fiddle my expenses? Possibly. Did I claim for a Kit-Kat? No.
You see no-one is free from blame but most of us - civil servant, accountant, solicitors, business man/woman, teacher - keep a sense of proportion and consider the implications if we abused the system too much. We thought about the how it would look to our peers and the people we served and hung our heads in shame thinking about the implications for our reputation.
Reputation - now there is thing! Honour, Clarity and Honesty.
Which brings me to communications. So far the Government has been in denial - "we followed the rules" - and the Tories and the Lid-Dems are very quiet, waiting to hear what is revealed about them. But no one is communicating.
First rule of crisis communications is to understand that you are in a crisis. Second rule, come up with a strategy to address the issue. Third rule, is to talk to people.
Problem is no-one is talking.

29.4.09

Getting the Craic of Dublin

I had a very pleasant day in Dublin yesterday discussing the Pour Your Own Pint concept with the fellas from the Fitzgerald Group which owns a larger number of hotels and pubs in the Emerald Isle. But more interesting for them was how we create and develop a brand in the UK.

They also talked about how we could big-up their media relations in the UK - simple, tell the British Press and media about the great things going on at their venues in Dublin. Such as:

It was a good day all round. Although me and my business partner, Andy, only had two pints of Guinness at The Palace, Fleet Street (Dublin's traditional journalists' pub), with an old pal before heading off to the airport with lot of ideas on how we could deliver a traditional media relations campaign and a social media campaign - now have a go at PourYourOwnPint. I scored 100% - can you beat that?

24.4.09

Are you a digital media expert?

God give me strength. Just been spammed by a “digital media expert” offering a training course on “New Digital Training”. Here it is verbatim:

“As the world of new media continues to explode, I’m writing to introduce you to our new training course: Digital Marketing & PR.
“This in-house course gives a comprehensive overview of the different aspects of new media. It shows delegates how digital techniques can be simply and successfully integrated with more established PR strategies to generate new revenue streams for your agency.
“Who is it for? PR professionals with a basic knowledge of new media, wishing to advance their skills, speak the language with confidence and sell more digital work to their clients.”

Oh Dear. I am not sure that new media is exploding nor do I know what a “digital technique” is – I wish I had one though.
The curious thing is the person who sent the email – obviously blind CC’d to all the unfortunate recipients – has not got a clue about social media. Otherwise, she/he would not have spammed me in this manner. Meanwhile, their online presence is decidedly Web1.0 – no blog, no social networks, no Twitter.
I’m finding that a lot of PR companies which have, up until recently, ignored the possibilities of social media as a medium for communications – and in some cases even derided it – are now putting themselves forward as experts on social media. All this on the strength of a month-old blog and a Twitter account with five followers.
As with traditional media relations, the sloppy agencies which gave the industry a bad name with the media, will tarnish us with same brush with their backward approach to social media.
There are some excellent agencies out there doing some fantastic work through social media – but now that others have spotted the bandwagon they threaten to turn it over as they struggle to get on board.
Chris Norton at Wolfstar neatly sums up the right way to approach social media when he compares two online pitches for the same company. Enough said.

18.4.09

In tough times, get tough

Just bumped into an old friend in the supermarket who runs an adhesives business - don't ask, I'm not sure what he does either.
He runs a great business which has been growing for as long as I have known him. He's one of the few people I know who is a genuine entrepreneur - all self taught and as boot-strapped as they come. However, in the current economic climate, he tells me that his company has gone to a four-day week.
I'm hearing this a lot of this now - in every industry. Earlier this year a very valued client phoned to tell me he was dispensing with the services of GREEN Communications even though he had been impressed with our results - he'd just made 20 people redundant ("We've never made people redundant," he told me), imposed a 10% pay cut across the business and elected to take no salary for the next 12 months.
Indeed, I was at the Open Coffee monthly meeting in Bradford organised by BMedia, where I am a board member, and all the attendees were talking  about tight budgets, extended payments terms (one guy was doing work on 120 day payment terms! Eek)
On the public relations front the news from the industry is pretty grim too, with significant rises in redundancies as clients claw back costs. This is sensible given that budgets are beginning to shrink but it also short-termist and ultimately damaging to the brands that are trying to position themselves for the upturn.
With the advent of social media, which is now largely the remit of the PR professional, cutting back on the communications budget should really not be an option given that most of your customers will be looking at you through the lense of the internet. If you not out there, you're nowhere.
And while I admit things are tough - we monitor our cashflow like hawks at the moment - business still needs to shout about what they are doing and consider the implications of what they are not doing, ie bad news and how they communicate that... a lot of our time is spent dealing with the crisis issues of staff redundancy on behalf of clients.
Curiously, our new business pipe line is very healthy and marketing directors and managers clearly realise they have to have a strategy but they are holding back. One new business contact has taken three months to set up a meeting.
Nevertheless, the more enterprenuerial businesses out there GET IT! And in the past week we have signed up two new clients - budgets are not big - but they clearly understand that PR is their only option at this point. Now we must deliver.

British politics now

1.4.09

G20 Summit protests

One of the banners at the G20 Summit protests in London on April 1, 2009. How very English!

29.3.09

The Tao of Charles Darwin

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races throughout the world.

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science , for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.

How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children.

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.

I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

Man tends to increase at a greater rate than his means of subsistence.

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.

The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

25.3.09

GREEN's credentials

24.3.09

My thoughts this month...

We're all social media experts now

Over the past five years tens of millions of consumers have been flocking to social media sites every day – and during that period most of the advertising and marketing community stayed away.
The only sector in the communications mix to embrace social media – first with blogs and now, most recently with Twitter, were those operating in public relations. The rest of the marketing community sat on the side lines and looked on uttering snide remarks about geeks and claiming there was no money in social media.
They either didn’t understand how to join the conversations - without sounding like suits - or they were frightened away by the prospect of associating their brands with questionable content and the great unwashed who make up the vast audiences the internet attracts.
That’s all changed now and a lot of cut-out-and-keep so-called social media gurus (some guy with a week-old Twitter account and three blog post to his name) are emerging from the old deadwood marketing agencies and embracing social media. Why’s that? Simple – the smell of money.

graph
According to the “The ROI on Social Media Marketing” report from the Aberdeen Group, sponsored by Visible Technologies, marketers have developed the tools and methodologies to drive marketing ROI by listening to and learning from customers and prospects.
As eMarketing points out: “The money is following the methods. Aberdeen found that 63% of the companies in their survey (defined as best-in-class) planned to increase their social media marketing budgets this year.
“Companies are learning how to leverage social media and tap into the rising tide of consumers participating in social network sites, blogs, wikis and Twitter,” they note.
“Companies use multiple approaches to identify the individuals who wield the greatest amount of influence in any given topic area and to track changes in their influence over time,” said Jeff Zabin of Aberdeen. “Best-in-class companies engage these top influencers as brand evangelists, and then track the impact of their words and actions in terms of return on marketing investment.”
So here’s one prediction to go alongside Aberdeen’s forecasts – expect the number of social media experts to grow exponentially over the next nine months. What do you think?

17.3.09

My colleague Thomas with client Jasmeen from the Institute of Occupational Health & Safety raising money on Red Nose Day. I love this picture... and full marks to Thomas for sheer chutzpah... good word

16.3.09

Print is dead. Long live journalism

Regional newspaper journalism is in meltdown and there seems no way out of the decline. There was a very depressing article in today's Media Guardian by Jon Slattery headlined Where the hell do we go now? Where, indeed?
Meanwhile, another online Guardian piece on strikes at the BBC underline the pressure on journalists at the moment - check it here: BBC journalists to strike for two days.
National Union of Journalists chapels across the UK seem to have no answer to this. They can shake their fists and take the moral high-ground - but from up there, in one's indignation, there is not much that can be achieved. In Yorkshire the good men and women who make up the editorial teams of the Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post and countless weeklies are currently striking - see previous entries - and I wish them the best of luck. DISCLOSURE: I used to work as a journalist there.
A lot of the big publishers are using the Credit Crunch as an cynical excuse to ditch valued editorial people - when there is a lot a bad news around what better time to put out bad news and not be criticised for doing so? Particularly by your own titles and rivals.
However, one has only to look at the state of regional and local journalism in the US (60 titles closed in the past six months) to realise that a lot of the regional titles we cherish in the UK will not exist in five, ten, 20 years time. I really do fear the Yorkshire Post which began more than 300 years ago has a shelf life of less than ten years. I follow a guy on Twitter who chronicles the collapse, demise and slow, slow death of print media - it's depressing.
So what's the answer? Well clearly the consumers of the traditional deadwood media are dying off. They don't go online - that's for sure. But then a lot of journalists - particularly those in the regions don't too. Because, like their owners, they saw the web as an amatuerish, slap-dash approach to journalism and publishing. No-one, they thought, will use these services...
But here lies their salvation. However, regional newspaper websites are shite. They are shite because the bean counters couldn't work out a business model for them so they threw away content without thinking about how they could moniterize the whole process. And they didn't invest. And they didn't ask the editorial teams what they thought. And this was ten years after the internet took over. Ten years!!!
Journalism is in denial - your medium is dying. Print is dead. Long live Journalism.
I believe that a group of journalists in any city could create a news website in a day - yes a day - and make it work. Would it pay salaries? Probably not. But it just might...

10.3.09

Take a pop at bubblewrap bureaucracy

Over at GREEN the ‘Bubblewrap Bureaucrat’ will be having his suit ‘popped’ to raise money for Comic Relief in Liverpool on Thursday 12 March. Editors are welcome to send photographers/TV crews/reporters from 11.00 – 11.45am
‘Wear something funny for money’ is the challenge for this year’s Comic Relief appeal – and as outfits go, they don’t come much funnier than that of the ‘Bubblewrap Bureaucrat’.
In fact, his get-up of bubblewrap suit, with bureaucratic bowler hat and briefcase accessories, looks so silly that Merseysiders are invited to ‘pop’ the bubbles on the suit, for charity. Anyone who spots him trying to lord it around Liverpool city centre, between 12.00am and 4.00pm, on Thursday 12 March, is invited to hand over £1 for Comic Relief for the privilege of popping one of his bubbles.
The Bubblewrap Bureaucrat is a creation of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Europe’s leading body for health and safety professionals, which is holding IOSH ’09, its annual conference and exhibition, at Liverpool’s BT Convention Centre, from 17-18 March.
IOSH President, Nattasha Freeman, explained: “We, as health and safety professionals, are tired of health and safety being used as a bogus catch-all excuse to ban fun activities. There are also those who, misguidedly, seek to over-protect us from everyday risks by trying to wrap us all up from harm, as if in bubblewrap.
“It’s great that Red Nose Day falls just before our main conference because it gives us a chance to highlight this issue through the Bubblewrap Bureaucrat, have some fun with it, get out into Liverpool before our big event and raise some money for good causes along the way,” added Nattasha.
“We’re looking forward to tapping into the well-known sense of humour and generosity of scousers, helping Comic Relief, raising awareness of what health and safety is really about… and hopefully, by the end of the day, we’ll get to see our bubblewrap friend walking around in some very flat, sad-looking plastic rags!”
For further information contact Thomas Atcheson on 0845 4503210, email:Thomas@greencomms.com or Twitter: http://twitter.com/Barc_alpha

9.3.09

Climb every mountain

Very puzzled about all the brouhaha about the C-List celeb's climb up Kilimanjaro as if they have conquered Everest for the first time. Well done them. And all for a good cause too... Red Nose Day.
No seriously, well done them. They obviously struggled through the whole experience and it is a big mountain to climb, but it's not a climb - no ropes, no crampons, no traversing etc. Did any of them carry an ice pick? Basically, Kilimanjaro is like a very long walk - think Whernside times 12.
What effects you most is the lack of air. At altitudes in excess of 10,000ft the atmosphere becomes so thin you have to literally suck air into your lungs to keep going - not pleasant, and neither is altitude sickness. Altitude sickness = nose bleeds, vomiting, lethargy, muscle spasms and in extremis, the shits.
But I know at least 20 people who have done the Big K for charity and completed it in a modest, grim, cheerful mood with no executive jet home. And by the way they paid for it themselves. I know of two friends who, once they completed Kilimanjaro, walked the Rift Valley and then... climbed Mount Kenya too... They did it for charity too but then, they were not C-List celebs and did it be cause they could.
Am I being Mr Grumpy? Yes probably - but sometimes I think credit should be where it is due with real people and not on a "look-at-me-celeb-wank-fest". Sigh.

23.2.09

Recessions are for wimps!!!

This is harsh! But I have a lot of sympathy with the sentiments having been through four recessions in the past. Now is the time to kick ass, including your own - I assume that is what Gaping Void intends.

19.2.09

Tough times for regional journalism


The picture above shows journalists from the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post – both based in Leeds, UK – striking over threatened redundancies.
This has been a common theme of the recession so far – the decline of regional journalism with swinging cuts from the South-West right up to Scotland. Now it has come to Yorkshire with 18 jobs up for the axe at Wellington Street. Full disclosure I used to work for Yorkshire Post and obviously my sympathies are with old colleagues.
Last year I took a phone call from an old newspaper colleague a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to know if I could help a former work mate find a job after being made redundant by a major regional newspaper publisher. I seem to be getting a lot of these calls recently
Since 1989, circulation is down 51% to 12,549 for the Birmingham Post; 49% to 70,028 for the Leicester Mercury; 43% to 50,256 for the Northern Echo (I used to work there); 62% to 32,874 for the Argus in Sussex; 38% to 38,844 for the Echo in Southend; 38% to 36,516 for the Herald in Plymouth; 49% to 20,976 for the Oldham Evening Chronicle; 46% to 19,956 for the Halifax Evening Courier. North, south, east, west, large, small, morning and evening, the story for Britain’s local papers is one of unremitting gloom.
Obviously, blogs, the internet, YouTube et al are having a huge impact on regional newspaper journalism and they are not going to go away. The main problem, certainly with the dailies, is that they are pretending to give local, regional and national news.
But parochialism is everything - and regional newspapers seem to have forgotten that. In my part of the world, what makes news in Bradford doesn’t make news in Leeds (ten miles distant).
Indeed, regionalism may have been deemed dead in some respects certainly at a local political level where people are not interested in what the councils of Hull, Leeds, Bradford or York have planned for their citizens. In spite of this I still love the Yorkshire Post and buy it every day. Similarly, as a resident of Barnard Castle I bought the Teesdale Mercury every week when I lived there.
Local is so important in regional newspapers. Back in the day when I was still a journalist - that meant covering the Women’s Institute meeting, the Parish Council and the local art competition. The idiocy of the current situation is that the more you cut the editorial resource the more you damage a newspaper’s ability to report local news.
Perhaps, we should launch our own web-based community funded newspaper for Yorkshire – now there’s a thought.

15.2.09

What I have been thinking this week

14.2.09

Total word of mouth

Sometimes, Andy Green tells me, we are faced with situations where a tenuous, fuzzy response – one that is deliberately vague – is the best strategy.
The recent response of a German Football league spokesperson is a delight to behold, a fantastic example of ‘tenuous talk’ at its best.
Just weeks after the revelation that Croatian footballer Dino Drpic had claimed to have had sex with his wife in the centre of his then team’s football pitch at Dynamo Zagreb’s (Metro Thursday February 12th) he suggested to his new Karlsruhe that he should wear the number 69 – apparently in homage to another of his passionate marital activities.
The German club’s marketing people rubbed their hands with glee only to be overruled by the League officials.
What do you say in response to a situation where you don’t want to focus on the direct innuendo, yet you have to justify your actions. Your comment must also have some form of coherence or validity.
“We asked the club to pick a lower number for the sake of clarity” was the wonderfully tenuous answer.
Can anyone out there beat that as a great response to a potentially embarrassing situation?

10.2.09

A few lessons from Obama

For anyone operating in the world of public relations or communications you could do worse than look at the principles behind Barak Obama’s campaign for the White House and how they can be applied to your own business…
1. Keep it simple and be consistent. Everything about the Obama campaign was big and yet simple. The big ideas addressed core issues that are crucial to the majority of Americans. They were communicated and addressed in a really simple way – consistency and simplicity ruled together for maximum effect.
2. Stay true to your message. Change was the one word that summarised the campaign and was referred to again and again. The prospect of moving away from a Republican government for the first time in eight years symbolised it all: change – that, in turn, led people to believe in change for the good. By simply staying true to the message, the campaign created a ground swell of opinion that it was change that was needed to win. Obama’s website is even called change.gov.
3. Stick to your objectives. Obama’s campaign was rigorously committed to its objectives and every aspect of activity was focused on achieving one, some or all of them simultaneously. Not only did it achieve the primary objective of getting people to vote for Obama, but the campaign also successfully achieved its fundraising objective - more than £500m dollars.
4. Get to the people that matter. At the heart of the campaign was a quest to embrace and train local people to build volunteer bases in different communities – this led to one of the biggest grassroots campaigns in the world today. Individual advocacy is the biggest driver of sales – turning one supporter into an advocate was worth at least 10 votes, as the results show.
5. Make people feel empowered and involved. This was the real secret of its success. Every single person involved at the grassroots was made to feel like he or she had a role to play. Whether participating in a rally, donating or training, the campaign ensured that voters became the most important participants and felt like their contributions really mattered. Every piece of communication was personally addressed to the recipient with a personal message of thanks from Obama.
6. Refine your data gathering and completion. Such was the scale of the compilation of data that the campaign’s different hits reached millions every time. A centralised online database meant every detail was recorded and allowed for easy cross-referencing of information and creation of lists to target specific groups, ensuring that the communication was right on target every time.
7. Embrace different media forms. The Washington Post described Obama as the “king of social networking”. During the general election 46 per cent of Americans used the internet, e-mail or text messaging to get information about the candidate compared with 29 per cent who watched network TV news and 34 per cent who read newspapers. As a result, online activity including videos, YouTube, myspace and FaceBook were used to maximum effect.
8. Getting the language right. Every element of the campaign used language that captured the audiences and had maximum impact – the choice of words and tone had to be in harmony with the campaign’s overall vision and messages. It was about using few words for maximum effect – Yes We Can, For the Change We Need...
9. Mass integration. Undoubtedly the mass integration of all forms of communications and data gathering are mutually beneficial components of a cohesive political operation. This was the key to the campaign’s overall success. It shows that consistency and a conjoined approach works. To say it broke new ground would be an understatement.
10. Protect your brand. It’s all very well building up a successful brand but it is as important to ensure that you maintain and protect it. With expectations now well and truly raised and that’s what all will be watching. Obama’s next challenge is to protect his reputation which will be another fascinating story to tell… I’m sure.

9.2.09

OpenCoffee in Bradford

Following the success of bmedi@’s previous OpenCoffee events, we are running another event on Thursday, February 19.
The emphasis of OpenCoffee is very much on the internet and new media industries. The free events are informal and see a range of technology entrepreneurs, designers, bloggers, developers, geeks, investors and anyone else who’s interested in digital media and technology exchanging ideas and striking up relationships that would otherwise never have flourished.
The philosophy of OpenCoffee is very much of an Open House of ideas and people.
OpenCoffee Bradford (Shipley), is being sponsored by the YoYo Bar & Restaurant as well as hosting the event here.
The event is open to anyone who is interested in the region’s digital, creative and new media industries. You’re welcome to enjoy the coffee, the cakes and the company. To book e-mail steve@bmedia.org.uk or register at Upcoming here.

6.2.09


Bradford Vets Winter Training from Ian Green on Vimeo.

This is me in the number three seat on the River Aire with the Bradford Amateur Rowing Club Veterans. This is not completely about vanity - I have just started using Vimeo and wanted to see if worked!

4.2.09

LaidOffCamp - WTF?

It says something about the times we are in - in San Francisco they are now running BarCamps for those cast out by the recession. Here's an email I just received:

'I'm organizing an event in San Francisco on March 3rd (and 8 other cities at later dates) called LaidOffCamp that is partially built from the BarCamp model. Each LaidOffCamp will be an unconference style event primarily for unemployed & self-employed people looking to share ideas about 1) starting a company 2) being a freelance consultant and 3) finding a job. I thought I would post this message in the BarCamp Google group not only because XXXX said it would be a good idea, but also because I wanted to invite the BarCamp community to come to any of the currently in-planning LaidOffCamps, make suggestions to the concept, or even bring a LaidOffCamp to their own city. Also, because there is a wealth of information on this group and on the BarCamp wiki that has been helpful to my planning, I want to say thank you to everyone here for being so open and allowing others to learn from each BarCamp experience.'

Good for them - using social media to sort out your circumstances!

1.2.09

Blinging up my business

Thoughts of an East Coast Liberal

Quite often people point at me and laugh because I blog and twitter and even engage with friends on Facebook or Linkedin.
Mainly, I suspect, their derision is based on the idea that the internet is a bad thing - a medium inferior to say, the novel or newspapers, where the traditional literary narrative. And by the way I am one of the most hungry consumers of books among my peers and currently have 15 books stacked at my bedside waiting to be read.
Given the wealth of information available in the web I am always stunned by the accusation that internet has cut our attention spans, dumbed us down and reduced the literary narrative to text-speak - LOL.
So I was cheered to come across Clay Shirky’s interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. Shirky, the author of Here Comes Everybody, is one of the brainiest people on the planet who deftly anwers the question - is the web shortening attention spans? Here it is:

You know, "Life was better when I was younger" is always an acceptable narrative. Right? And so for anybody who was brought up genuflecting to the literary culture and the virtues of reading Tolstoy - and essentially Tolstoy is a trope in these things, War and Peace is the longest novel in the sort of Euro-centric canon - you could always make the argument that the present is worse than the past by simply pointing to the virtues of the past. And so, what the Web does is that it does what all amateur increases do, which is it decreases the average quality of what’s available. It is exactly, precisely, the complaint made about the printing press. So, the only thing surprising about the Web, in a way, is that it’s been a long time since we’ve had a medium that increased the amount of production of written material this dramatically.
But people made the same complaint about comic books, they made the same complaint about paperbacks, and they made the same complaint about the vulgarity of the printing press. Whenever you let more people in, things get vulgar by definition. And people who benefited under the old system or who dislike or distrust vulgarity as a process always have room to complain. But, the interesting thing is, when you say so many people believe this, in fact almost no one believes this, right? There’s a tiny, tiny slice of the chattering classes for whom “Life was better when I was younger” is an acceptable complaint to make, and they have these little conferences or whatever and agree with one another about that phenomenon. But when you look at the actual use of the Web, it is through the roof. And it has continued in an unbroken growth from the early ’90s until now. So, in fact, almost everybody thinks it’s a good idea because they’re embracing it and they’re experimenting with it and they don’t really care what we think.
And when I say “we,” I mean—I am a member of the Chardonnay-swilling East Coast liberal media elite. But I also recognize that anything I might have to say about the utility of the media actually isn’t going to influence whether or not people are going to adopt this. And so once you get out of the idea that basically the previous avatars of the cultural good, and the world that George W.S. Trow chronicled so beautifully Within the Context of No Context—once you grasp that those people are powerless to that effect, powerless with regard to the adoption curve—the question really becomes, “How do you point out an effect where something has been damaged?” And that’s where I think a lot of this conversation about reading breaks down, because if you assume that reading Tolstoy is an a priori good, your world crumbled in 1970. And it’s hard to point to the Web as responsible for any of that because that was a done deal for some time.
If you want to point to more proximate harms, it would be very hard to argue, for example, that innovation, inventiveness, new intellectual discoveries had slowed as a result of the Internet, and so people are left with these kind of mealy-mouth cultural critiques, because nostalgia becomes the only bulwark against change. The actual effects of making more information available to more people have been enormously beneficial to society, yet not to the intellectual gatekeepers in the generation in which that change happened.

31.1.09

We're doing a BarCamp

Big call out! We - and that includes you - are planning BarCamp Bradford as the city's first 'unconference', a event where the participant who attend create the programme of sessions themselves. BarCamps are open, participatory, democratic, 'workshop' events; the organisers and sponsors simply provide wireless broadband, a venue, beverages and food! The attendees provide the content - and the buzz ;- )
An unconference is a conference where the content of the sessions is created and managed by the participants (generally day-by-day during the course of the event) rather than by one or more organizers in advance of the event on Saturday, April 18.
The term BarCamp is primarily used in the geek community. Open Space Technology is an energizing and emergent way to organize an agenda for a conference. Those coming to the event can post on the wiki here ahead of the events the topics they want to present about or hope others will present about. The wiki can also be used as an attendee list and to manage the organization of the event from food through to the provision of wifi etc.
We're anticipating sessions on social media; blogging; 3D printing; digital film making; Augmented Reality interfaces; Cloud Computing; mobile technology trends; Drupal, games design; co-creation; public relations and marketing in the digital age; an SEO clinic as well as talks from some of the big digital players of the North.
We'd love for you to come - if you're a creative; an artist; a writer; blogger; technologist or a developer; a geek; an entrepreneur; an academic researcher; gamer or investor please join us. If you're just curious and interested in digital culture - we'd love to meet you too!
Come and demo, talk, share or just hang out!
The event - which will be held at Shipley College - starts with an introduction by the organisers rearticulating the purpose of the event, the guidelines for conduct during the day, parameters and health and safety.
Parameters explain the start and end time of the event, duration of the sessions, breaks for food, how to access the network etc.
The Rules of Bar Camp?
Rule 1: You must talk about Bar Camp Bradford.
Rule 2: You must blog about Bar Camp Bradford.
Rule 3: If you want to present, you must write your topic and name in a presentation slot.
Rule 4: Only three word intros.
Rule 5: As many presentations at a time as facilities allow for.
Rule 6: No pre-scheduled presentations, no tourists - we might break this rule with a key note speaker
Rule 7: Presentations will go on as long as they have to or until they run into another presentation slot.
Rule 8: If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present. (OK, you don't really HAVE to, but try to find someone to present with, or at least ask questions and be an interactive participant.)

29.1.09

Amid the gloom - look at the positive

Up here in Yorkshire thebusinessdesk - the leading online business news portal - has launched a campaign in favour of positive stories regarding business.
I like this a lot because even if your business is doing well it is easy to become obsessed by the Radio 4 Today Programmes' daily morning relish in all the economic awfulness and become full of self-doubt about your own business.
At GREEN we are doing very well at the moment thank you very much - eight new business propositions in the past two weeks at least, solid team of colleagues determined to do their best, and a clear vision for the business.
However, in the last two days two companies in our market have gone belly-up - Designers Republic (excellent Sheffield design agency) and TAS Communications (award winning PR agency in Beverley - 15 jobs lost. Very sad).
So big pat on the back to David Parkin - who had the balls to launch thebusinessdesk in the first place and leave the comfort of his position as business editor at the Yorkshire Post - for calling for positive business stories.
David says: "While not wishing to underestimate the impact of the current downturn and the effect it is having on company finances and jobs, our users are really keen for us to highlight some good business news to shine some light on what has become a relatively gloomy outlook for business.
"Our users have made the point to us that the national media are increasingly focused on the latest corporate victims of the downturn and rarely balance that with anything positive.
"We understand that despite the gloom there are some great businesses out there that deserve to have their stories highlighted. Our audience is made up of people in high level roles across the region and they understand that if we all just accept that the outlook is bad and getting worse then no business will look at opportunities to grow."
Companies we are currently working for - I can't disclose them here for obvious reasons - are doing incredibly well. They are expanding, spending money on our services, recruiting staff and, crucially, seeing opportunities in adversity.
Make no mistake the next six months are going to be shitty but I think a lot of the companies that go under have probably been basket cases for years. Indeed, I could never understand all the media fury about the administration of Woolworths - it should have gone under years ago. And, I suspect, a lot of crap will be washed out by the current recession and the good companies will emerge.
What do you think?